My little boy is 20 months. He's a whirlwind of new words and sounds and even sentences. We read together every day. Not because I think it's important (I do but I also think a balanced diet is important as I open yet another tin of beans when I'm in a hurry!). We read because he says "books" and pulls me to the bookshelf or brings me a book and climbs into my lap. He loves books and I'm so pleased because I love them too.
The first book I bought for him was about a week before he was born in a "pregnant and bored" shopping spree. It's called "First 100 Numbers" by Bright Baby. It is a really simple book with pictures of everyday objects and questions to inspire counting. Even though there's no story, no funny characters, no lovely moral message, it is probably the book we have read the most throughout his life.
At first we just used it for making comedy baby photos and as something for him to look at because it's nice to look at.
As he got older (but still a tiny baby) we'd "read" it to him. There is no story to read. in fact there are hardly any words at all. It's just page after page of pictures of things but babies don't care what you're saying as long as you're talking to them so I think we just used to talk about the pictures. "Ooh, look at the horse, he's got ears and a nose. There's his tail, doesn't he look friendly" ... And other whitterings of a doting mother.
After a while he became really engaged in the book and there were a few pictures he could point to if you asked. The first ones were banana and tractor (both objects which are still big favourites in our lives!). It was so exciting asking him "where's the banana" and seeing his little chubby hand point to the right picture! I wish I knew how old he was at this stage but its not the sort of milestone you write down.
We have played "where's the..." with this book ever since. He knew the basics quite quickly and then suddenly (it felt like overnight) he knew every single thing in the book. I remember asking him where the clock was, thinking "I've never talked about that clock before, I don't think I ever say the word clock. He won't know what one is.." I was amazed that he was picking up words without being 'taught' them.
Now he is starting to talk we can play "what's this" as well as "where's the...". He still surprises us by coming out with words he's never said before and now with his attention to detail. He is looking at the pictures in a new way now, finding tiny details we've never noticed.
Now our love of this book has gone global now as Granny and Grandpa read it with him all the way from Florida via the magic of the iPad. It gave him a way of interacting with them and "chatting" that he couldn't quite manage with adult small talk.
Even though there is no story, this book has provided us with hours of conversation and entertainment and taught my baby way more than his first 100 words!
It has been a constant favourite throughout his life and I reckon we'll still be reading it in another 20 months! After all, we're nowhere near counting all these chicks!!...
With many thanks to Amy who writes over at 2Boys1Mum. This is a wonderful post that shows just how valuable books can be. I have ordered this book for our own collection and can't wait to read it. Amy is one of my favourite bloggers so go take a look at her blog. It's fab!