A book can change a child's life. A book can change the world. Every book a child reads creates new neurons in that child's brain. If you want intelligent children give them a book. If you want more intelligent children give them more books. - Jackie French, Senior Australian of the Year 2015.
Just before Christmas my sister asked her friends and family for book suggestions for her eight month-old son. The suggestions she received were all very populist - Where is the Green Sheep, Possum Magic - all very typical. While I'm not going to say anything against these popular titles I would like to illustrate that there are many other books that she might not have heard of that her son might also really love.
Above are some of the more Montessori type of baby books. Photographic, faces, babies, animals, realistic. Babies seem to be attracted to faces and love to look at other babies. I also love the diversity that exists in some of these books. Babies have an absorbent mind, they absorb everything. They use the information/environment around them to make sense of the world. They become the things they see. It is important that we carefully consider what we want our children exposed to.
Above are some of the more popular titles that I also really like and would be happy to have in my Montessori home. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes... and The Wheels on the Bus are great for rhyme and song. The other books include animals and most story lines follow reality. The blue horse and purple cat have always been a concern for me! In Time for Bed I don't believe the animals are 'talking' to each other, rather communicating. Peepo is long time favourite of mine and both of my children love the lift the flaps in Dear Zoo.
I really like the idea of having a small amount of board books freely accessible to children of this age. It might only be three or so books in a basket by the bed. But these are the books they can access when they like. Small board books that they can open and learn to turn the pages. Durable but watch for chewing. I also wouldn't rotate them too often and when rotating only change one or two at a time. It's usually obvious which are favourites and I wouldn't take them out of rotation. Babies love repetition and familiarity.
These are just the books I am suggesting be accessible to the child. Children and babies of course need to be exposed to a whole range of books, complex stories, new words. In book shelves or out of reach the family can have paper books that can be read to the child or the child can hold while with the parent or siblings. For children reading is so much more than a book, it's about human connections, relationships, voices, rhythm. It's also a wonderful thing when a sibling can share books with each other.
Once babies are mobile, crawling and every standing, they can access books in low books shelves. I remember Otis pulling himself to standing on our bookshelf (we have the KidKraft Sling Bookshelf) - all in an effort to reach his favourite book. Having a few books clearly displayed makes it easier to the child to select a book and even return it. It's a great to teach children to respect books by treating them with care from the start.
Pottery Barn Kids - Collector's Bookshelf, KidKraft Sling Bookshelf, Etsy - Polka Dot Book Sling, Ikea Bekvam Spice Rack (here and finished here), Community Playthings Toddler Book Display, Steffy Wood Products 4-Shelf Book Display and Land of Nod - Color Bar Ledge.