Book Review: Baby Read-Aloud Basics

I am now going to fawn over a book. Forgive me if it’s messy; fawning doesn’t come naturally to a guy.

Every parent wants a smart baby, but few parents know how to help their baby’s development (my basis for that claim is the surging popularity of unsubstantiated “educational” baby videos).

Baby Read-Aloud Basics lays a road map for nurturing language development – from birth – with books. And by extension, attention span and memory also benefit.

Cover of the book Baby Read-Aloud Basics.It’s written by Caroline J. Blakemore and Barbara Weston Ramierz, two Reading Recovery specialists who teach elementary school children affected by reading difficulties.

The book has three parts.

Part 1 explains why reading is important for language development, and the authors’ reasoning is backed with fascinating research citations that could keep me blogging for a month. When my daughter was born, plenty of people told me to read to her early and it seemed like a bit of folksy wisdom. The authors make a compelling case why not doing so could have negative repercussions years later.

Part 2 breaks reading into six development stages, from birth to 24 months. It explains what information your baby can process at her age, how to read aloud for her stage, and the types of books to use—even providing the names of specific books and customized techniques to use in those books.

That’s right. Parents need to be taught how to read to their children. I say that and I’m not joking. I realized it when I took my daughter to story time at our local libraries. I sit there bored and saddened that the storytellers speak in a monotone voice and do little to draw children into the books. By comparison, my wife makes stories interactive and fun. There is a technique to drawing toddlers into a story while teaching them the meaning of words, and teaching an array of other items such as shapes, objects, colors, etc. You can’t do that well with a room filled with children who are at a bunch of different development stages.

Baby Read-Aloud Basics shows me that we were on the right track with our reading efforts, but that there was much more we could have been doing.

This book even provides transcripts of real reading sessions where you see italicized words that appear in a children’s book alongside everything else a parent was saying to his child that wasn’t printed in the book. The only thing that would make Baby Read-Aloud Basics better is if it came with a DVD or links to online videos demonstrating these reading sessions. They have one video online, but it’s 50MB. It’s not as exciting as I expected, but does demonstrate some techniques to an obviously responsive baby who is just beginning to learn to speak words.

Part 3 is filled with answers to frequently asked questions, tips for managing TV (hint: the authors are not fans of “educational” videos) and how to assess books at a store. Multilingual households are also addressed in this section.

Now, this book was submitted to Thingamababy for review. I only accept review samples for products I think have a good chance of receiving my recommendation (but if I’m wrong, I will honestly pan the product). A reader recently held me to a slightly higher standard… if I had to return my copy of this book today, would I buy it? The answer is yes. I will be ordering it for a friend who has a two-month-old and buying it for the next baby shower I attend. There you go. I’m fawning and also admitting I attend baby showers.

There are three books new parents should have: one about baby health, one about baby sleep patterns and the third is Baby Read-Aloud Basics. I like it that much.

And now, the table of contents…

Part 1: Why Baby Read-Alouds Benefit Your Baby’s Language Development

  • Ten benefits of reading aloud to your baby from Day One
  • Eight baby read-aloud basics

Part 2: The Six Baby Read-Aloud Stages

  • Stage 1: The listener (birth to two months)
  • Stage 2: The observer (two to four months)
  • Stage 3: The cooer (four to eight months)
  • Stage 4: The babbler (eight to twelve months)
  • Stage 5: The word maker (twelve to eighteen months)
  • Stage 6: The phrase maker (eighteen to twenty-four)

Part 3: Practical Tips and Resources

  • Frequently Asked Questions about talking and reading to babies
  • Fun activities and tips to manage TV and make a language-rich home
  • Interviews with parents of successful readers
  • Baby books 101

Notes (citations and other notes)
Additional resources


2 Responses to “Book Review: Baby Read-Aloud Basics”

  1. Dan says:

    Just bought it on Amazon.

    December 19th, 2006 at 11:21 pm

  2. JMo says:

    This book looks great. I’m going to stop by the library and pick it up tonight.

    March 4th, 2008 at 2:16 pm