Bring every book you can get your hands on into your house, to get your child reading and learning from an early age.
What is it?
Books! Big books, small books, paperback, cardboard books, squishy books, waterproof books, lift-the-flap books, sensory books, picture only books… Get as many as you can and learn over time which ones you and your child enjoy most.
Do I really need one?
You need hundreds.
How do I get one?
In Scotland, you’ll get some free BookBug bags through your health visitor, at birth, age one, age 3, and age 5. Bookstart packs are the equivalent in the rest of the UK, and they also do books for kids with extra needs, and dual language books. Otherwise, all the usual channels, and dedicated second-hand bookshops are great, too. Also try visiting local book festival events where you can meet the writers and artists.
Is there a hack?
A library card gives you access to all the books you can read. You just have to be a bit more careful about your baby eating them.
What are the safety implications?
Your baby will probably eat the books.
You should really secure your bookcases to the wall in case your baby pulls them down on top of themselves.
How much are they?
In the UK, you should get a certain number of free books from BookBug or Bookstart. Otherwise, I’ve got them from as little as 10p from charity shops, free from Freegle. If you can, buy the odd new book – especially new titles from local authors – to support the market. From a bookshop, not from Amazon – that way the people who worked hard to make the book get something out of it.
What are the alternatives?
There is no alternative to a good book. Apps and TV shows have their place – I’m not anti-technology – but your child can’t build a relationship with them in the same way they can a book.