When we think about what books are best for children under three, we need to keep in mind their developmental level.
These children are in the process of adaptation, which means they are learning how to relate and become a part of the world that they see around them. Children between birth and three possess what Dr. Montessori termed an unconscious absorbent mind, meaning they will pick up every single detail of their surroundings without any preconceived ideas or judgement. Because of this, the books that the child looks at need to represent this reality. The books need to do with the life of the child and be culturally appropriate. It is important that the images in the books are based in reality and if possible not have images of things that don’t really exist like smiling or talking animals. This characteristic is very hard to find as the majority of children’s books possess friendly looking creatures that are generally smiling and/or talking. There is definitely a time in the child’s life where these make-believe books are encouraged, it is just not for the child who is under three years old.
The first books that we introduce to the children are books with one object per page. Then, they slowly increase in content to include one object with the name per page, then two objects with names per page, etc. The process continues to more objects with a short text (ex. Today is my birthday. I will have a party.). The pictures in the books move from real images to drawings, however they still need to be realistic.
At home or in the classroom it is important to have a small selection of books out at one time (ex. 4-8 books). These can be on a little bookshelf for the child to access. It is recommended to rotate the books every week or two from your larger selection. Show your child how to manipulate the book and turn the pages. If you handle books with respect and model this for the child, he/she will do so as well.
Here is a selection of books that I have in my classroom (and at home) which generally fit this criteria:
Baby Basics – Animals www.priddybooks.com
Trucks – Bright Baby www.priddybooks.com
Animals – Early Learning Fun www.priddybooks.com
Things That Go – Early Learning Fun www.priddybooks.com
Words – Early Learning Fun www.priddybooks.com
Baby Faces Board Book – Smile! Grobel Intrater
Families – Babies Everywhere Star Bright Books
Carry Me – Babies Everywhere Star Bright Books
Eating the Rainbow – Babies Everywhere Star Bright Books
Cuddle – Happy Healthy Baby www.freespirit.com
Move – Happy Healthy Baby www.freespirit.com
Hands Can Hudson, Cheryl Willis Bourke
Sizes – DK Flaptastic www.dk.com
Cuddly Animals – DK Touch and Feel www.dk.com
Christmas – DK Touch and Feel www.dk.com
Welcome Song for Baby Richard Van Camp
Wild Animals – Amazing Animals Vision St. Publishing
Sea Creatures – Amazing Animals Vision St. Publishing
Emergency – Mighty Movers Vision St. Publishing
Diggers and Dumpers – Mighty Movers Vision St. Publishing
Baby’s First Word Book Nicola Baxter
Maybe My Baby Irene O’Book
First 100 Things That Go Make Believe Ideas Ltd.
Things That Grow Snapshot Books
In the Wild – Baby Animals Kingfisher Publications
On the Farm – Baby Animals Kingfisher Publications
Bathtime for Twins Ellen Weiss
Playtime for Twins Ellen Weiss
Everywhere Babies Susan Meyers
Mini Masters Artist Series Julie Merberg and Suzanne
Good Night Our World Series David J. Adams and Anne Rosen
Big Red Barn Margaret Wise Brown
Baby Animals Gyo Fujikawa
In My Tree (Pond/Den/Ocean/etc) Sara Gillingham & Lorena S
Wiggle! March! – Indestructibles Kaaren Pixton
Little Helpers Innovative Kids
Poems to read to the very young Eloise Wilkin
How Do I Love You? Marion Dane Bauer
The Garden – First Words Flying Frog Publishing
Food – First Words Flying Frog Publishing
Baby Beluga Raffi
Machines At Work Byron Barton
Who Lives Here? Paula Croyle
Look forward to having you add to the list!