“Are you always supposed to read at their level?” This was a question posed by a wonderful mom I met yesterday for a “play on words” session with her 5 month-old. Her little John is an interested listener when mom reads his favorite books, Goodnight Moon, Big Red Barn and That’s Not My Teddy by Usborne. But mom confessed that sometimes she gets a little bored with the board books and sneaks in a little Winnie the Pooh or Dr Seuss. Good for her!

When talking to new moms and dads about reading to their babies, I always encourage them to go outside the box. Certainly, babies prefer the rhyme, rhythm, short lines, fun sounds and wacky stories of the board books, but try adding a great piece of literature aimed at a bit older child that still has bright, intriguing illustrations, and lots of beat to the story. When I have play sessions with parents of 6 month-olds, I always bring along Giraffes Can’t Dance by Andraae and Parker-Rees. Why? Because I am always learning from the parents that I teach. When I met with a mom of a 6 month-old, I asked my usual question about what were her son’s favorite books. She replied, Giraffes Can’t Dance. Now I was familiar with that cute tale of poor Gerard the giraffe who buckled at the knees every time he tried to dance because I had read it to 3 year-olds. I was sceptical that her baby really sat for this longer story until mom proceeded to recite the story from memory! This story has engaging illustrations, wonderful rhyme, beat, and vocabulary.

Certainly the “mommy boredom” factors need to be considered. We read with more emotion, interest and more often to our children when we like the books too. That is why I love Sandra Boynton books like Moo Baa La La La, Barnyard Dance, Snuggle Puppy and The Going to Bed Book and Rosemary Wells’ books like Goodnight Max, Max’s Bedtime and Max’s Breakfast, because I am entertained too and continue to chuckle each time I read them!

By the way, John’s mom discovered that John loved Horton Hatches the Egg, one of her favorites too, because of the lively rhythm that Dr. Seuss is known for. Hey you may as well get to know Horton because his new movie is coming out soon.

So try out some new books and let me know in the comments how it is going and what book intrigue your child.