Try This at Home Tuesday: Read themed books with baby!
I’ve always been a big fan of themed activities and children’s literature. I guess this comes from my days as an elementary school teacher. I loved having a themed based classroom. Themes created excitement, interest and curiosity in my classroom. They also allowed for kiddos to interact and socialize with their environments outside of school because they would experience the themes across settings.
Exposing babies to seasonal and themed activities and literature does the same. It allows them to make connections within their environments. This is called book to self. When babies are out and about and see things that they have read about, they make connections and build on their cognitive skills. Reading about a theme and then seeing it in real form creates associations, which allows babies to apply the information they have learned from reading. Babies start by generalizing the information and then categorizing it. For example, initially babies may think all orange, round things are pumpkins. As they have more exposure and see a variety of pumpkins in books and different settings, they begin to learn the various characteristics of pumpkins. Once this is achieved, babies begin to categorize the different shapes, sizes, faces and colors thus building on the cognitive skills of problem solving, memory, attention and language. There are also book to book connections made when baby relates between books they’ve read. Such as, recognizing ghosts or black cats from one book to another. Lots of great language can come from themed books as well. My nearly fourteen month old son is currently saying “boo” when he sees a ghost and naming pumpkins, bats and the moon. Receptive language skills can be tapped into by asking baby wh- questions such as “Where’s the bat?” or “What does the witch say?” You can also have baby identify pictures by saying “Touch the ____.” Babies will take what they learned from reading and connect it when reading other books and in their environments. Themed books are great because babies see the things talked about all around.
All of this information builds babies schemas. What is a schema? In short, it’s background knowledge. It is the information children know based from previous experience. They add to their schemas by connecting new information to previously learned information. When reading books with children, I place heavy focus on connecting the book content to their schemas (what they already know). With older kiddos, I always say “picture yourself in the book.” With littles I may say, “that’s a cat like nana and pawpaw’s cat.” I’m not sure what Halloween festivities I will get into with my one year old son yet, but reading Halloween themed books with him prepares his schema for what to expect. Themes are fun because they allow babies to see new and different things each season and make lots of connections between reading and life. The more connections babies make, the greater their schemas and cognitive skills become.
Below are Halloween themed books that are in our library collection and we read multiple times a day. I like to display seasonal themed books for my son to have easy access to. I switch them out with the various holidays. This way he always has some books that are new and different. My son really enjoys these Halloween books:
1. Little Blue Truck’s Halloween by Alice Schertle: This is my son’s go to which doesn’t surprise me because he loves all the other Little Blue Truck books. It is a lift-the-flap book and my son is really into these right now. It has a cute little story line about Little Blue Truck picking up the animals which are dressed in costume to go to a Halloween party. You can incorporate lots of animal and environmental sounds while reading this book. Tip: My son loves the original Little Blue Truck’s rhyming and repetition, so I add “Beep Beep said Blue, jump on in and you can come too” after the animals speak on each page.
2. Llama Llama trick or treat by Anna Dewdney: This is a quick and easy read. My son loves all the Llama Llama books so when I saw this one, I didn’t hesitate. It’s a cute little story about Llama dressing up in costume and getting ready to trick or treat. These books are very simple with just a few words on a page and fun, bright illustrations.
3. Where is Baby’s Pumpkin? by Karen Katz: I’m a big fan of Karen Katz’s books, use them a lot in my speech-language therapy. This is a lift-the-flap book which my son loves. I’m working with him on being gentle with his books, this is a challenge! This book exposes baby to basic prepositions. Baby searches behind the curtain and bowls, under the leaves and bed and in the closet. Once baby finds her pumpkin, she goes trick-or-treating. It’s cute with colorful illustrations.
4. Boo! by Leslie Patricelli: This book taught my son to say “boo!” Baby and his daddy dress up as ghosts and go trick-or-treating. There is lots of nice Halloween vocabulary to talk about and point out to baby.
5. It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff: It’s the little mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Mouse paints his pumpkins with different faces. This book is great for talking about emotions such as happy, sad, silly and surprised. I make lots of big facial expressions when reading this with my son. We also play find the mouse on each page. It’s a fun book.
6. My First Halloween by Tomie dePaola: I personally love Tomie dePaola books and illustrations so I bought this one because of the author. It’s also a short, easy read for baby with lots of Halloween decorations and costumes to talk about.
7. Little Cat Finger Puppet Book: Finger Puppet book plus a one year old, need I say more?! I find these little finger puppet board books at TJ Maxx and my son loves them. In this one the little black cat gets Halloween surprises along her night walk.
Tips: Show baby two books and let him/her choose which he/she would like to read. Always have books available and within baby’s reach to independently explore and discover.
Reading aloud to babies has unlimited benefits. Check out my posts on Tips for Reading Aloud to Babies and The Benefits of Reading to Babies. Reading books with seasonal themes increases babies engagement, curiosity and excitement for reading. I challenge you to read a fall themed book with a baby. Does your baby have any fall/Halloween themed books they love, please share!
Cheers to reading with babies,
Note: These books were purchased by me solely. I did not receive any discounts or free products for my review of these books. The links embedded in this post will take you directly to Amazon for which I am an affiliate. If you make a purchase through one of those links, I may make a small commission from your purchase at no cost to you. The links that I add to my blog are based on my personal thoughts and opinion. I share them because it is something I personally find useful and recommend.