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Early Literacy: Babies Need Words Everyday

Keep a record of the books you read to your child. Select the "Read To Me" tab for book suggestions or check with the Children's Librarian at your Delaware Public Library.

By the time children from low-income families reach the age of four, they will have heard thirty million fewer words than their more advantaged peers. Babies Need Words Every Day: Talk, Read, Sing, Play is a national, public awareness initiative created to help bridge the Thirty Million Word Gap. The following book lists spotlight the best titles to encourage early learning concepts in the effort to bridge the 30 Million Word Gap.

The following booklists were compiled by members of the Association for Library Service to Children’s Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee, American Library Association.

American Sign Language

Many families of hearing infants want to help their babies to communicate wants and needs with signs as a temporary bridge to oral language development. American Sign Language is important not only for the deaf community but also for hearing children who will be communicating with deaf relatives or friends.

Books with Sharp Color Contrasts

Color vision is not well developed at birth. This is why books with high-contrast pictures are the best choice when the goal is to interest infants in visual stimuli.

Black and White Books

Books with Bright Colors

Nursery Rhymes

Nursery rhymes are important for young children because they help develop an ear for the cadence and rhythm of language.

Books With Faces

Babies are born predisposed to find faces interesting. Research has shown that an infant pays attention to human faces longer than anything else.

Common Objects to Identify
(First Words)

Infants are most interested in pictures of familiar things. Picture books that pair a picture of a single object with a word help children to learn new vocabulary.


Concept books are instructional books that help children start to label and identify their world. The best of these books teach and entertain children at the same time.

Books with Playful Language

When adults read aloud books with playful language, they encourage their young listeners to play with the sounds of language, too. This play supports language development and phonological awareness.

Books to Manipulate

As soon as they are able, young children are “hands-on” learners. Using books that they can rattle, touch, feel, lift the flaps on and explore not only engages their senses but also adds interest.

Touch and Feel Books

Lift the Flap Books