I read a study recently that showed a correlation between young children being exposed to TV (even in the background) and poor performance in cognitive and reading related tasks. The report said the researchers surveyed 1,450 households and found children between eight months and eight years old were exposed to an average of four hours of TV a day.
I find that slightly horrifying.
We err way in the other direction. I'm not sure I watch even four hours of TV in a week myself (and by TV I mean movies, because we don't have cable), and most weeks all of that is after Bean is in bed.
That isn't to say we don't have screen time, so don't think I'm getting all preachy Waldorf here. We love our computers and iDevices. Bean even has her own iPhone (without a service plan!) on which she plays Peekaboo Barn. Over and over.
But the biggest entertainment for the kid in this house is books. You know when your kid is quiet for just a beat too long and you have to go check to see what they have gotten into? Nine times out of ten I round the corner and find her with a book on her lap, flipping the pages and studying the pictures.
Everywhere Babies, by Susan Meyers. Illustrated by Marla Frazee.
This story has simple, rhyming text and beautiful, detailed illustrations. This one has been a favorite for many months - what baby doesn't love looking at other babies? Recently we've been talking more about what's going on in the drawings. There are cats, dogs, balloons, and lots of colors to look for and talk about.
10 Minutes Until Bedtime, by Peggy Rathmann.
With similarly detailed drawings but very few words, this is a really fun bedtime book. It shows a little boy getting ready for bed with the help and accompanyment of a host of hamsters, who are doing all kinds of interesting things on each page. I love that on the storytime page, the kid is reading a copy of 10 Mintues Until Bedtime.
Jamberry, by Bruce Degen.
This book originally came into the house as a hand-me-down from Bean's babysitter's kids, inspired because Bean loves her blueberries. The story is singsong, with made-up berry words and fun illustrations. Iread this book every day at least once. I love that the illustration on each page hints at the story on the next page - it took me a while to notice that! There is a lot going on in each drawing and lots to talk about and point out. I've given this book as a gift already several times.
If you don't know Sandra Boynton's books, run, do not walk, to the bookstore and check her out. Her board books are fantastic for toddlers. Simple, silly stories, illustrated with funny animals (and not just the usual farm animals!). Several of her books are available in an interactive, narrated format in the iTunes store. Snuggle Puppy and Barnyard Dance require you, the reader, to be willing to sing a little, but your kid's grin will make the awkwardness of that totally worth it. Hearing my guy bust out his full-on southern twang for Barnyard Dance is awesome.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin, Jr. Illustrated by Eric Carle.
I've seen this book at all of my friend's houses recently. It is a classic, and a great showcase for Eric Carle's style. Very simple story, very repetitive. Bean tends to turn the pages faster than I can read so she can see each animal. She loves the page at the end that shows them all in one place and we have been practicing the signs for each animal as we look at that page together. I was delighted to find that the teacher in the story sports classes in a color very close to the color of Bean's frames.
Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, by Al Perkins. Illustrated by Eric Gurney
This book is a recent addition. I found it before Easter and put it in Bean's basket. Although it always leaves me slightly out of breath to read it at her preferred speed, I love that the rhythm of the text makes her dance. yesterday she was drumming on the toilet lid while I was brushing my hair and I sang, "Dum ditty, dum ditty, dum dum dum!" to her. She rushed out of the room, pulled all the books off of the shelf until she found this one, and brought it over to me with a big grin on her face.
Go, Dog, Go, by PD Eastman.
This book has a Seussian quality about it, so I always confuse it with Dr. Seuss books. It was a very early favorite, and has held its place in the lineup for many months. It is a nice small size, easy for her to hold and turn the pages herself. The last illustration, the dog party which is the destination of all the going, can hold her attention for a long time.
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, by Mo Williams
This one is not a board book, but Bean is surprisingly gentle with it. It is part of a series of books about a pigeon, in this case with aspirations to be a bus driver. The illustrations are graphic, large, with muted colors. It is really fun to read and would make a great story circle book. It can be really interactive if the reader asks the kids what they think: "Should we let the pigeon drive the bus?" Bean is a sweetie, though. She always says yes, we should.