The importance of a humble, little, board book can not be underestimated. Through these early exposures to books that Baby can hold and touch and feel, a love for reading develops. Making sure your babies and toddlers have easy access to beautiful and fun board books is like taking your folic acid supplement in early pregnancy. It is ESSENTIAL to promote the healthy, viable growth of a good reader… of a child who chooses a book over a video game or who can be still with their own thoughts rather than always seeking to be entertained. I find it asinine that parents lament that their Bobby “hates to read” when they he is 13 years old but fail to realize that very often the problem began a decade ago when Bobby was plopped in front of the T.V or never given his very own books to cherish and collect. Most of all, Bobby was too often deprived of one of the deepest comforts of childhood when he was very infrequently held in a lap and read to. Quality books feed our babies. And I think they are one of the best gifts you can give your child or any child you know. But enough preaching; if you are the type of person who reads this type of blog, you already know all this!
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Just to dispel the myth that I am anti-novelty— based on the last post— I wanted to share with you some thoughts on what I think are excellent additions to the Board Book world in the past couple years. In my home, I keep either a small basket handy or have a low bookshelf (currently, it’s the repurposed IKEA spice rack you’ve seen everywhere online) where “baby books” are kept. I keep only about 5-ish books in there are a time and rotate them out more or less weekly. In the perfect world, I’d love to have a month of rotations but between recent casualties and missing books, we don’t quite have 20 board books so we just do the best we can.
At any rate, I find keeping the books in there fresh to be a wonderful way to keep Baby coming back to the shelf. Our two-year-old knows those are HER books (but that doesn’t stop the 4 and 6 year olds from having a healthy interest in what those are and reading them also) and loves to pull them from the shelf and toddle over to Mama, Papa or big brother and demand to be read to. Since she is Napoleon reincarnated, we always comply.
Besides all the wonderful classic board books out there—and there are some great ones… (and I’ll let interested parties know more about those with an announcement next week)— here are just a few novel ones that I find to be quite charming. One last thing I like about finding great, newly published books is that they make for excellent gifts. When you aren’t sure if you godson’s family already has Brown Bear, Brown Bear, you can be pretty certain that they don’t have the new board version of Kitten’s First Full Moon. Anyway here are some lovely, new board books:
Here is my olive branch extension to the KiddyLit company that produces the board book classics; they seem to have got it right with this title. C Is for Castle: A Medieval Alphabet promises to be very, very charming for both toddler and adult. There was no need for this to be a board version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but a generic medieval theme fits quite nice. Colorful and original art, simple text… everything I look for in a board book!
Swing… that lovely old poem from Robert Louis Stevenson. This book offers a very easy and appealing way for very young children to memorize this poem. Here, is teaching kids to appreciate the classics, done right.
I’m not sure where Steve Light has been all my life with this little series of books that came out first in 2008. Along with Planes Go, there are Trains Go, Trucks Go, Diggers Go, and Boats Go (2015). And I have to tell you something: these are the best books EVER for dads to read! And there are two reasons: 1- They are short. Despite his crazy wife, my own husband doesn’t particularly LOVE to read aloud to the kids; he’ll do it willingly most of the time, but it’s not something he relishes and so he often is relieved when the child picks a short book. 2- These books are mostly just noises. I can not make NEARLY the cool helicopter or fighter jet sound that my man can. Maybe I’m sexist but I think men might just be inherently better at mimicking the sounds of machines than women. So these board books are so much more fun when Papa reads them than me.
Do you know Fran Preston-Gannon yet? She’s new to me (was a designer for Burt’s Bees at one point though!) but so much fun. Hot Dog, Cold Dog and its newer companion What a Hoot are so much fun. I liked them immediately for their size (larger than the average board book) but all the colors and busy-ness of each page are quite appealing also. Really well done…
If you are an Orla Kiely fan (think of those vibrant Target designs), you will love her board books. They are all very simplistic but Shapes and the like are a novel bit of graphic design that would spice up any (
hipster) baby book basket.
Around the World (and it’s companion Through the Town) are loved by my four year old son the most. The books have an indented “trail” on each page that the child is supposed to follow with his finger. Making noises as he does loops or passes the yeti on the mountain are half the fun I think. Whatever the case may be, these books are fun and tactile (but not in a “lift the flap” way that makes you worry a child will rip it apart).
Hooray! Author/illustrator Il Sung Na was not just a one hit wonder when he made A Book of Sleep. Two years after that hit came Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit (which we love also) and now his quirky artwork appears again in A Book of Babies. Perfect for Easter-time. I had to laugh at the single One-Star reviewer who said the “pictures weren’t realistic enough” for their child to enjoy the book. Wow. It’s a picture book… and this artist never tried to be exactly perfect. For the rest of us who “get it”… please enjoy the whimsy.
I haven’t had a chance to see Pinwheel yet! But as a life-long lover of kaleidoscopes, I want to very much! It sounds wonderful and the images we can see on amazon are excellent. Someone buy it or find it at your library and please tell me if it’s as charming as it sounds!
Now here is a gem. A B See is a wonderful board book and it would honestly be best for a 4 or 5 year old, rather than a toddler. Each page features a letter filled with images that begin with that letter… and a small bit of text describing just one part of the image: “Bear bounces a basketball.” What I also love about it is that the book feels good in your hands. the images are all slightly raised and it offers an excellent, tactile way for pre-readers to go over the letters and notice every little image. Really a lovely, lovely book!