Book Review: Reading With Babies, Toddler, and Twos

Review of Reading With Babies, Toddlers, and Twos, originally posted on my personal blog on June 8, 2006.

I'm happy to be part of the blog book tour for Reading with Babies, Toddlers, and Twos by Susan Straub and KJ Dell'Antonia. 'Cause, you know, free stuff. But also because I think the book is great and fills a big gap for parents of younger kids who don't know where to go after Pat the Bunny and Goodnight Moon. I liked the book so much I recommended it to the children's librarian at my local library branch.

RWBTAT has three main strengths. The first is that it's a short book, written in easily-read and digested chunks. This makes it perfect for a nursing mom of a baby or a parent of a toddler who can only read in 5-minute chunks. It's small enough that you can toss it in your bag or the bottom of the stroller to read if your kid falls asleep while you're out. You don't have to wade through statistical studies to get to the tips and tricks for choosing and using books with very small people. It's perfectly targeted to a largely sleep-deprived, short attention-spanned audience.

The other strength is that it's specifically geared for babies and little kids. The authors affirm that it's not just your baby who doesn't seem to care that much about books, it's not just your toddler who wants to throw the books more than listen to them, and it's not just you who feels like reading to your child is a big waste of time since your child doesn't do more than gum the book. Their message is that all that is normal, and it's part of the process, and if you read to your kids because you think you have to it's going to be a disheartening experience, but if you read because you like to read, they'll eventually start to pay attention. It's refreshing, really. A book that doesn't guilt-trip you about how your child will never be a success later in life if s/he isn't force-read for an hour every day.

The book's biggest selling point, though, is the sheer volume of different lists of books. They have lists of books about colors, books with baby faces, fairy-tale book, classic books that became TV characters, lift-the-flap books, books to help with rough bedtimes, books to help talk about death and dying, and on and on. It's almost comical how many lists there are. (I'd make fun of the authors for it, but I've already used some of the lists to update my library reserve list and wishlist, so I really can't throw any stones.) Just when you start to get huffy about "I can't believe they didn't put Good Dog, Carl on the list!" you turn the page and there it is. They even have lists of favorite books of real-life kids of all (young) ages, from 3 months to two.

This is a perfect baby shower gift or book to buy for yourself when you feel like you're bored with your current repertoire and need a little guidance about choosing the next round of books. I was happy to receive the book to review, figuring I'd read it and then give it to a friend with a new baby, but now I can't get rid of it. I need the lists too much.