Reading books with baby is a good way to get them interested in books and spend time with them.

The major emphasis with books and babies at this stage is about sharing and enjoying time together with stories and language, rather than learning to read.

You can read almost anything to baby

Parents can read anything with baby – magazines, junk mail, the bus timetable, a recipe, the newspaper… just remember baby will want to use their mouth to explore them.

Ask the whānau:

  • What books does baby have?
  • What does baby do with books?

In the Whakatipu booklet Te Pihinga 2 (page 4), pēpi says:

‘I want to explore books. I like to put them in my mouth, chew on the cover and turn pages.’

On page 6, whānau say:

‘We share small chunky books with hard pages and brightly coloured pictures. Adding lots of sounds or making up stories helps to keep pēpi interested.’

These quotes tell us that babies start by ‘playing’ with books, and they learn a lot through their mouths. The main thing is for baby to think playing with a book is fun.

However, mouthing or chewing them is not the only way babies can enjoy books, and adults and older siblings can encourage baby to focus in other ways.

Helping baby get more out of books

Whānau can:

  • tap a page to draw baby’s attention to it
  • name the picture
  • make the noises that go with the picture (if appropriate)
  • say ‘turn the page’ as they do it, and tap another picture and make the noise.

If baby has had enough, that's fine. Take the cue from baby and try again later.

  • Is there someone who reads to baby in your house?
  • What does baby like them to do when reading?

A rich learning experience

When whānau share a book with baby, they provide a rich (multi-sensory) learning experience for baby through:

  • snuggling up with a trusted person
  • sharing their attention on something interesting
  • listening to language
  • getting lots of repetition
  • looking at pictures and talking about what’s happening
  • learning how books works – top, bottom, front, back, cover and pages that turn
  • seeing the enthusiasm for books that bigger people can give them.

Best books for baby

The most suitable books for a baby during this stage are books that:

  • are chunky cardboard books with simple, bold pictures or photographs
  • are about animals and things that move and make noises
  • have buttons to push or flaps to lift
  • have rhymes
  • have different textures.

Here’s an example of how you can introduce a photo book activity to whānau:

‘We can make a simple book for baby using some photos or magazine pictures and a small photo book' (or ‘brag book' with plastic pages).

‘We could write some simple captions to go with the photos.’

Caption examples:

‘Look at [pēpi] (write baby’s name).’

‘Look at Māmā. Look at the kurī.’

‘Who’s laughing?’

How does this relate to Tākai resources?

Baby wall frieze – Pānuitia taku tino kōrero anō anō – read my favourite story again and again

Six things children need – Te ārahi me te māramatanga – guidance and understanding

Helpful resources for whānau