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Caroline is available for talks about the importance of reading to babies. She also contributes to on-line magazines on the subject of language and literacy development.
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Baby Book Reviews - Stage 4 - The Babbler
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Characteristics of Stage 4 Books – The Babbler
These are the few months just before talking begins. Your baby is building a reservoir of words and sounds that, when you first hear them, will be cause for great celebration. The words from every book you read will go straight into this reservoir. We have selected a variety from books that can be sung like Raffi's Wheels on The Bus to Eric Hill's Where's Spot with it's hidden creatures behind flaps that baby can lift. If you have been reading to baby since birth, you'll see how it pays off now, because your baby happily anticipates reading time and responds with joy. By this time you have become expert in the kinds of books your baby likes. You may even need a bookcase for all the books you have collected. Think of the gift of words and language you have given your baby in a year!
Good Night, Gorilla
Author: Peggy Rathmann
Board Book
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 34 pages, 1994
If we had to list our top ten favorite baby books, Good Night, Gorilla would be at the head of the list. Caroline's grandson heard it soon after he was born prematurely, and he still loves hearing it at almost four years. His sister Sadie, at five months, loved the black page with all the white "good nights". Now at nearly two years, she still loves the same page. Perhaps it's the way her mother dramatizes each "good night" with a different pitch and speed.

The story, which only uses the words good night and the names of the zoo animals, is mainly wordless. It shows the gorilla furtively lifting the keys from the zookeeper's belt and unlocking all the cages. The animals follow the zookeeper into his bed. The zookeeper's wife awakens and takes them all back to the zoo, but the clever gorilla escapes undetected and sneaks into bed again with his pal, the mouse. There are so many elements for babies and toddlers to revel in. The illustrations are colorful, funny, and simple. There are many opportunities for conversation and questioning. What's that animal? Where's the mouse? At two months, your baby will look and respond to your exaggerated animal sounds. Later your baby will begin to point and answer your questions. Each reading will foster a new creative voice.
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Wheels On The Bus, Songs to Read
Author: Raffi
Illustrator: Sylvie Kantorovitz
Board Book
Random House, Inc., 26 pages, 1988
Here is a book you can sing while looking at the adorable illustrations. The CD or cassette version by Raffi is also available through Troubadour Records. We highly recommend CDs by Raffi, as they are very appropriate for babies, toddlers, and kindergartners. You will notice how intensely your baby will listen to you or Raffi sing. His voice is pleasing to adults as well as children. There are other board books in the Raffi series, such as Baby Beluga.
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Freight Train
Author: Donald Crews
Paper, Board Book
Harper Collins Publishers,Inc., 19 pages, 1996
This beautifully designed, award-winning book begins with two or three large freight cars of different colors. The simple text, which matches the color of the frieght car, names the kind of car and color. Eventually we see the entire train as it's, "moving, going through tunnels, going through cities and crossing trestles. Moving in daylight. Going, going. . . gone." The illustrations are simple, colorful, and great for pointing to and talking about. Another favorite vehicle book by Crews is TRUCK. Even the youngest toddlers are captivated by these vehicle books, both Caldecott Honor Books.
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Everywhere Babies NEW
Everywhere Babies
Author: Susan Meyers
Illustrator: Marla Frazee
Board Book
Harcourt, 28 pages, 2001
Reviewed by Caroline Blakemore
The humorous, down to earth illustrations depicting babies in all sorts of positions and everyday situations make this irresistible book one of my favorites. It shows all different sizes and colors of swaddled newborns; babies being kissed from their cheeks to their toes, being dressed, fed, rocked, carried, and so on. Although a good time to introduce this book might be during Stage 4, it would also be cute to offer as a new baby gift along with other baby books and, of course, a copy of Every Word Counts.

My granddaughter was introduced this book at Stage 6, and now well over two and into books with more complicated stories, she still loves it. I’m always happy when she selects it, because I usually find a new detail or cute baby face to look at. We wished we had discovered Everywhere Babies in time to be included in our book.

I learned from our wonderful local children's bookstore the illustrator, Marla Frazee lives nearby. She sometimes gives book signings at the bookstore. Much to my delight I noticed she has done a number of books including what has now become my favorite Santa book: Santa Claus The World’s Number One Toy Expert. I'll talk more about that next Christmas. In the meantime, view other books in her collection at the author/illustrator's website:

Parentese Tips and Talking Points About the Illustrations:
The author discusses on her website how she draws a story, and indeed, there is so much for parents to talk about through the comic, yet poignant illustrations. Your toddler will relate to something on every page that is familiar: a blanky, a stuffed animal, a stroller, grandparents, and siblings, etc. You point, "look, the baby is in a car seat just like yours." Compare the objects and people in the illustrations to those in your baby's environment.
Each time you "read" the book, you can talk about different illustrations, so that no two "readings" are the same. I put read in quotes because parents will be doing much more dialoguing about the illustrations than reading the phrases under the illustrations that actually rhyme. This is the power of a first rate baby book: it inspires lots of talk and dialogue between you and your baby or toddler.
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