Researchers at Ball State University have suggested that giving 15-month-olds books with photographs may make it harder for them to learn how to read. Reading requires an understanding of the concept that symbols in a book stand for real objects. 15-month-olds tend to treat a photograph of a thing as if it were that thing and so may have a more difficult time grasping the concept of symbols if they are shown a book with photographs than they would if they were shown a book with more abstract pictures.
Of course my three-month-old son is not at this point yet -- he treats the book itself like the object it is, and, like every other object he can get his hands on, he puts it in his mouth. All of which reminded me of this passage on confusing objects acting as signifiers with the objects they signify:
A finger points to the moon
What an interesting finger
let me suck it
It’s not an interesting finger
take it away
from R.D. Laing's book Knotsparenting newborn baby infant toddler parent mother motherhood reading books picture+books literacy symbols laing