It’s a simple ask: I hope to raise kids who love to read.
My siblings and I love books. One of my earliest memories was struggling over the word “pebbles” in a Ladybird copy of Hansel and Gretel, and asking my mom how it was pronounced.
Reading, I felt, changed our lives in so many ways for the better, and I wanted to pass it on to my son.
Way before Squishy even arrived in our lives I was already trying to “build” a small library for my (then future) kids. I started with a few books I remembered loving as a child, and a few more I wish I knew about when I was younger.
I recalled the timeless charm in Shel Silverstein’s poems and black-and-white illustrations. The delicious thrill I felt from Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell’s scary stories. My amazing adventures with Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, and Tintin. Crying with Wilbur in E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. Looking for Wally. Rhyming with the infinitely readable Dr. Seuss.
I wanted to share my love for these books with my kids. I wanted to find out what books my kids would introduce me to.
I didn’t care whether I was having a boy or a girl, or that it would be years before he/she would even be able to read them. I’m getting these books for them! I thought.
It eventually dawned on me that I had to slow my too-excited heart down. His time to read all that will come.
We all start with ABCs and 123s, so that’s where Squishy’s reading journey begins.
I read that babies love looking at people’s faces. In fact, a Stanford study (among many others) showed that “as early as four months, babies’ brains already process faces at nearly adult levels.”
That babies are so advanced at processing faces and facial expressions shouldn’t be surprising. It’s essential to their (and our!) survival.
Here’s a quote from another study, on how much babies learn from looking at faces (emphasis mine):
A lot can be learned about our social world from the faces of others. Faces provide information about age, race, gender, physical health, emotional state, and focus of attention, giving observers a window into the mental states of other human beings. During the first year after birth, infants begin to extract a large amount of information from faces: they begin to recognize identities, recognize and prefer faces from their own race, detect affect, and follow gaze. However, these sophisticated abilities are of little use if infants don’t look at faces to begin with. Put another way, to extract information from faces, infants must first attend to them.
So we made sure to talk and read to Squishy. A LOT.
One the first books we read to him is Baby Faces, a baby-friendly board book by Margaret Miller.
As the title implies, it’s a book with babies of different races making all sorts of facial expressions, from “Yum-yum!”, “Uh-oh!”, “Boo hoo!” to Squishy’s favorite, the “Yippee!” Baby:
Board books are excellent for little ones especially, who often like a book more for its chewability than its content.
See? It’s so baby-friendly, Squishy can hold it in one hand!
Baby Faces is a good addition to his first library, and a good start, I hope, to a lifelong love for reading.
When the time comes, I’ll be waiting with my Tintins.
Baby Faces (Look Baby! Books) (Board Book)
By Margaret Miller
Available at Kinokuniya for S$7.99
P.S. Stay tuned for more on Squishy’s books under Kids’ Read!