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What books could you possibly read to infants? High-contrast ones!

What book could you possibly “read” to a new-born? The answer- High Contrast books. These are books which have been found to be quite engaging to young eyes. 

The reason behind this? Infants have some limitations to their vision. They respond very well to strong black and white patterns. These high contrast patterns help them to focus and concentrate intensely on one stimulus. This is a favourable choice, as compared to being overwhelmed with several stimuli. 

Hence, high-contrast geometric patterns work best for babies. How do we know all this? Research by developmental psychologists have illuminated this fact time and again. Dr. Robert Fantz conducted a study in the 1960s where infants looked at selected stimuli through a peephole. He concluded that the eyes of the babies travelled consistently more to a patterned black and white checkerboard as compared to a plain grey visual stimulus. 

The rods and cones of the child’s retina are still to mature. Hence, till they are between 6-9 months old, black and white high contrast books or flash cards work really well. There are many things that a baby can do at birth, which is enhanced by exposure or ‘reading’ high contrast books. For example, the baby can see clearly and ‘fix’ its sight or gaze on something that interests it. Repeated exposure increases attention span, leading to a greater stimulation of the brain pathway. 

If something appeals to the new-born, it will ‘track’ or follow the object with its eyes. Try this out with high contrast books! Tracking is also quite an important skill. It teaches the child that objects move places but still remain the same. A natural step from here is scanning, when the child tracks a series of objects in his environment. 

These high contrast books will be great tools during the first year of your child’s tryst with this world! 

Look, Look! By Peter Linenthal is perfect for staring at! 

Merry Christmas: A Black and White Baby Book by Adam Harris contains 24 illustrations perfect for newborns. The Christmas theme makes it a good gift as well! 

Cluck and Moo by Frida Bing focuses on animal sounds. This makes it quite fascinating for babies!

Baby Animals Black and White by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes gets up and close with eight baby animals. Animal pictures always appeal to babies! 

Pictures for Baby: High-Contrast Images to Stimulate Your Baby’s Brain by Lee Larsen has some really whacky images like that of an alien…adds to the fun element! 

Hello Baby: Mirror Board Book, A High-Contrast Mirror Book by Roger Priddy works well because of the addition of the mirror on the last page. This can be seen through the peep-holes on all the pages. Just adds to the fun! 

Agreed, there are several advantages of using high contrast books with infants and toddlers, as described above. But, above everything else, reading with your child will create a lasting bond through an activity that will hopefully continue between you and your child all the way through their childhood and teens, paving the way for a rock-solid parent-child relationship! 

Dhanishta Shah

Dhanishta is a Counselling Psychologist and a freelance writer. She is the Founder of Bookedforlife.