Four weeks ago I returned to the library from being on maternity leave. My daughter is now five months old and quite the smiley, curious baby. I can scarcely believe how quickly this time has passed, but also, as many parents know, how long the past five months have felt. Parenthood truly is “the longest shortest time.”
For obvious reasons I spent my maternity leave immersed in everything baby. I joined my fellow library patrons at Baby Storytime, walked the Kitsap Mall on rainy days, walked through parks on sunny ones, and took her on adventures to Seattle. Most of all, I read, sang, and talked to her constantly. We youth librarians and early literacy experts often talk about the importance of talk, sing, read, write and play as the cornerstones of early learning in babies and young children. I knew these recommendations and the research behind them, but as a new parent, I struggled with feeling like I did them enough.
Parenthood is hard! You’re tired. Maybe you’re lucky if you showered that day. And now you need to worry about preparing your baby for language and literacy development? Fortunately, repetition is crucial to babies learning, and they love the sound of your voice. When rereading the same books, I sometimes focusing on a different element in them. For example, in What’s On My Head by Margaret Miller, I’ll point out the color of the item on the book baby’s head and bring my daughter other objects that match that color. I narrate everything we do together (now a habit I occasionally bring to work…). My husband often reads aloud an article he’s interested in, which helps her hear a wider variety of words. When it comes to singing, I feel fortunate to have a captive audience as I try out new songs and rhymes for storytime!
We at Kitsap Regional Library know it can be challenging to think of new ways to incorporate talk, sing, read, write, and play to your babies and small children so the activities doesn’t become monotonous. That’s why our Inspire magazines will now feature a page of early learning tips and activity ideas for families to try together. If you have something that you love to do with your child, please share it with us and we can include it, too.
As my brain has been everything baby for the last several months, I also wanted to share some favorite books I read to my daughter over and over and over. (Both my husband and I have Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton memorized.) I’ve also included a few books for older babies that I can’t wait to share with her.