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Reading Levels

How High-Contrast Books Help Babies Learn Necessary Skills

Eager to foster a love of reading in your newborn but not sure how to start? It may be too soon to crack open A Tale of Two Cities, but babies can still appreciate a study in contrasts. Although it takes time for their vision to fully develop, infants can register images displayed in contrasting colors—namely black and white. 

Considerate authors have met little ones where they are, creating high-contrast books designed to keep babies engaged, which in turn stimulates their visual, mental, and social development. Always happy to show how books bring out the best in us, Literati offers multiple selections that put these benefits into focus.

Clearer Images, Stronger Vision 

During the first three months of life, babies’ eyes struggle to focus on anything roughly a foot away. By reading with them, you can ensure they process high-contrast imagery from an optimal distance (about 8-10 inches). This helps the retina send stronger visual signals to the brain. A steady diet of clear visuals helps strengthen the retina itself and grow the optic nerve.

In addition to these internal changes, there are also effects you can see. By presenting your baby with imagery they can focus on and linger over, their attention span will improve. After about three months, you’ll notice they’ll be able to visually track objects as well, watching as they move from one spot to another.

Best books to strengthen vision:

Illustrated with babies’ capacity for color in mind, these books feature stark black-and-white imagery and mix in splashes of red, one of the first colors a newborn can distinguish. Text takes a backseat, making for a gentle introduction to simple yet expressive shapes.

  • Look, Look! by Peter Linenthal
  • It Had to be You by Loryn Brantz

Material for Brain Development

Visual development directly affects cognitive development. A healthy retina and optic nerve positively impact the function of the brain’s vision center. When infants can get a good view of what’s on the page, they can start doing their own comparing and contrasting. Encountering new shapes and images helps them make sense of the world around them. 

High-contrast books also promote engagement through sound, another source of sensory info that stimulates brain development. Reading text aloud offers your baby a chance to listen and examine (visible!) letters and words, paving the way for strong vocabulary and communication skills. Even if infants can’t yet express the language they’re hearing, their brains still receive information.

Best books to improve cognition:

These selections add an extra layer of stimuli for budding minds. Featuring subjects like the shapes and animal sounds, babies can practice listening skills as they make connections between text and objects.

  • Cluck and Moo by Frida Bing
  • Farm: A Slide and Play Book by Surya Sajnani

Storytelling as Social Activity

While the eyes and brain will certainly get a workout, there’s still plenty of room for fun within the pages of a high-contrast book. The stimulating reading experience it provides is a great setup for a rewarding parent-child interaction.

Books can be captivating portals, but they can also be opportunities to show affection. Introducing gentle kisses and tickles into your storytelling process helps link reading time with playful physical touch (i.e., fun). Many parents have also successfully paired reading with tummy time, when babies are already physically engaged. This shared activity creates excitement and trust, setting the stage for healthy back-and-forths down the road.

Best books to support social growth:

These books make for a more active and communal reading experience. Whether you’re acting out the story or overseeing a tummy time reading session, these fun tales encourage physical and emotional involvement as well as social bonding.

  • I Kissed the Baby! by Mary Murphy
  • TummyTime: Animal Parade

Pleasure and Progress

High-contrast books serve as the perfect starting point for your baby’s reading journey. They capture focus with distinct visuals, plant seeds for strong cognitive skills, and present a chance to spend meaningful time together. With such a powerful introduction to literacy, your kids will be tackling Dickens in no time!

Receive high-contrast stories right at your door with Literati Book Clubs

Intrigued by the books listed above? That’s just a sampling of what Literati offers. We have a read on what books will sharpen your babies’ eyesight and help them gain a greater understanding of this brave new world and their place in it. By subscribing to a Literati Book Club, you can expect a fun variety of thoughtfully curated newborn-friendly books regularly delivered to your doorstep. You’ve got enough on your plate as it is; we’ll stock your library for you.

Authored by Charlie DeTar
November 4, 2022


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