Also, in my googling, I found this great website - ReadToYourBaby.com - where I learned some helpful insights on "parentese," ("Parentese is not baby talk - oo es da cootest witto baby in da wold - which is unintelligible. Parentese makes language more intelligible.") which have already influenced my conversations with Julia.
These are some of the highlights from her library, from my library, and from the public library ...
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
They say that babies will respond to lilt, meter, and intonation when you read to them. Sandra Boynton's books have some delightful lilt and meter. I intersperse my own interpretation of "Turkey in the Straw" throughout the book. We also have Belly Button Book - "Bee-bo!" - equally sing-songy and well crafted. I like the books that are actually well written - not the ones that sound like they were written by a computer - "Butterfly. Silky Wings. Touch the rainforest!"
You Are My I Love You by Maryanne Cusimano Love
I read this one to Julia when she was an itty bitty tiny baby newborn. The title sounded cheesy and the illustrations weren't my style, so I wasn't expecting much. But by the end of it I was in tears. Maybe I was extra susceptible in my post partum state. But, nothing I've read - for adults or for children - has done such a sweet job of describing the balance between parent and child.
So ... when they say that babies respond to lilt and intonation, I'm pretty sure that also means that you can read them the phone book and if you use the right lilt and intonation, they'll enjoy it. So since Julia can't really tell the difference between a Pulitzer prize winner and Is This My Nose, I figure I might as well get some of my own reading done while I'm helping Julia along the path of literacy. But don't worry - I am reading her the more age-appropriate texts almost every day.
I loved Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake - so when Unaccustomed Earth came out, I was pleased, but was inexplicably put off by the title. Until I read the introductory quotation from Nathaniel Hawthorne - "Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes may be within my control, shall strike their roots into unaccustomed earth." And then I remembered why I love Jhumpa Lahiri and why her work moves me so.
Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee
I found this book on the shelf near all the baby food cookbooks I was hunting down at the library. I thought I would just read a few pages of it at the library and leave it - but I got hooked on the story and had to bring it home with me. It read like a captivating A&E biography or something made for TV. It was highly entertaining and read quickly. And - because I read about it in an exaggerated tone - Julia got a big kick out of how the famed, crazed, 40-year-old Chez Panisse has - amazingly - only recently started generating profit.
Same Same by Marthe Jocelyn and Tom Slaughter
Another one I picked up at the library was this one - a super simple book of illustrations - three on each page that are similar. Things that make music, things that are striped, things with four legs, etc. One thing from each page joins the trio on the next page - it makes for a great association game. Fun to read and it'd be a fun activity, too, for an older child. Not much rhyme, lilt, or meter - but such a fun idea. And I think Julia could appreciate the high contrast illustrations.