Network Blogger: Reading books to my baby

Mr Sam is nearly six months old, he’s been given lots of books, but rather than bombard him, I read a small selection to him during the day, and before bed and at some point we’ll swap some new ones in.

The first book I read him, when he was just days old was “The Giraffe and the Pelly and me” by Roald Dahl. I appreciate it’s not a book for babies but at that age I think the sound of my voice is good for him. I also downloaded the complete Beatrix Potter stories to my phone and I’d read a couple of these to him, mind you some of them were a bit bonkers.

Now that he’s showing interest in the words, pictures, colours and movement in books, we sit and read them together when he sits on my knee. So the downloaded compendium of Beatrix Potter has lost it’s charm.

I’m currently reading (during the daytime): Dear Zoo, Where’s Spot, Can you sing?, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, This Little Baby, a book of Nursery Rhymes, This Baby’s Morning and before bed: Goodnight Poppy Cat and
Guess How Much I Love You?

I know they’re just books for babies, innocent and gentle, and when you read them once or twice you think awww. But after reading them every day (sometimes several times) you start to question the words and meanings.

In particular with Dear Zoo, the main flaw in the story is that a pet is required and a zoo is contacted, instead of a pet shop.

A number of zoo animals are sent,  deemed unsuitable, and returned.

I thought about the treatment of the animals in this story.  Each time an animal is rejected, another is “sent”.  The process of putting a zoo animal into a cage or box for transportation may cause unnecessary stress in the animal. By rejecting each animal means the animal endures further stress, being returned to the zoo.  It’s not clear whether the animals are given food or drink during the journey, only the monkey appears to have a banana.

My husband said that he imagined queuing up at the post office counter with a crate containing an elephant
and the cost of postage.

Basically I’m thinking, If a pet shop was contacted initially, then 7 innocent wild animals would not had to suffer the plight of unnecessary transportation.

I’ve also got problems with Guess How Much I Love You? I know it’s a very popular book and it does get a lot of
love from everyone.

But It’s the character of Big Nutbrown Hare who makes me cross. 

He’s one of those people I dislike in the real world – they have to be one better than you, you can’t have anything without them going one better; if you’ve got a headache, he’s got a brain tumour – he’s like that.

Little Nutbrown Hare just wants to show how massive his love is for Big Nutbrown Hare, but his thunder is constantly stolen by Big Nutbrown Hare who always goes one better and trumps his efforts. Poor Little Nutbrown Hare.

And I now see the moral of that story as being, there’s always someone who likes to be one better than you.

Now what could be more gentle than a nursery rhyme? Nursery Rhymes – gentle? No, they’re really pretty violent, and I’d forgotten how bad they were. 

In Goosey Goosey Gander you get an old man being thrown down the stairs, for not saying his prayers – poor bloke. 

Then you’ve got the Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe, who is basically neglecting her children – she beats them and sends them to bed without food.

Then you’ve got Rock a Bye Baby – which condones tying your baby’s cradle up in the trees (baby in as well) and letting it rock so hard it falls.  There are clearly some health and safety issues being breached here, and I’m sure the cradle manufacturers didn’t recommend doing this with the cradle. 

I do wonder what these violent nursery rhymes are teaching my baby.

I’ll carry on reading them, Mr Sam probably doesn’t understand the words just yet, he enjoys them because he’s cuddling up with me (or his dad), listening to the rhythm of my voice reading the words, and looking at the the brightly coloured pictures.

And so for now I should worry less about what they mean.

lisa vincent

Lisa Vincent | Loopy Girl

About Janine 596 Articles

I am an antenatal teacher, doula, baby massage instructor, postnatal educator, life coach, writer, mum, wife, friend and, sometimes, just me.

As an experienced and qualified practitioner, I specialise in pregnancy, birth and early parenting – my aim is to listen, inform, support and reassure when needed.

I have worked with parents since 2002 and I set up Birth, Baby & Family in 2011 to provide good information, a different perspective and links to the best products and services for families.

I set up the Birth, Baby & Family Centre in 2014 to provide a welcoming, friendly and supportive space for parents across Tyneside.

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