Monday, March 05, 2007

Books from the Beginning: Board Books for Babies

If anyone noticed my light posting last week, I had a good excuse. I was visiting with my two-year-old grandson and five-month-old granddaughter out of town and doing, er, let's call it first-hand field research on books for the youngest users. Getting down to their level, so to speak, is a striking way to see what books as a medium have to offer--in tactility, portability, and sensory experience--to the real beginning reader. Luckily, these two children have been book people from their first introduction to them, so observation was easy.

Board books are a wonderful adaptation for babies because of their easy page-turning and indestructibility. One "natural" for this genre is Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar, ably shown above by my attractive young model. This book has a lot going for it--Carle's jewel-like colored collages, pages of different sizes which literally turn themselves, and, of course, those very irresistible holes in the pages in which to poke one's little fingers. The text per page is brief, keeping the pages turning fast enough to keep attention when read aloud, and the words are sonorous to the ear regardless of the level of comprehension. Every baby should have one of these!

Another set of tiny board books which both my youngest grandchildren love (see above right for one reason why) is the Winnie-the-Pooh Storybook Set, which feature abridged versions of favorite Pooh stories with the original words and illustrations. When he was a bit younger, my grandson also was fascinated with Winnie-the-Pooh's Touch and Feel, which has sturdy lift-the-flap and touch-and-feel pages in a brief version of the famous flood story. A favorite page even features a "sticky" spill from Pooh's honey pot.

For the smallest babies, good choices might include Ten Little Fingers, Baby's Animal Friends, and Who Says Quack?.

For the six- to twelve-month-old baby, some other choices are Sandra Boynton's Greatest Hits: Volume II, which includes the all-important Going to Bed Book, Curly's Friends, great for both tactile sensation and prediction experience, and any title from the Things That Go board book series by DK Publishing.

For the over-one-year set take a look at the ever-popular Harry the Dirty Dog, Curious George Goes Fishing, Wheels on the Bus, The Cat in the Hat Big Flap Book, (like all flap books recommended for those kids who are beyond "re-engineering" the flaps), and I Spy Little Books, especially the very mathematically clever I Spy Little Numbers.

An abundance of board books and plenty of parental interaction between the words and text with the young reader are the best way to make reading and books a permanent part of the child's life--one of the best gifts of all.



  • And don't forget "Goodnight Moon", my 18-month old's favorite.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:05 AM  

  • Yeah! Where's that red balloon?

    By Blogger GTC, at 12:21 PM  

  • "Ten Minutes Til Bedtime" and "Goodnight Gorilla" are, along with "Goodnight Moon," also great going-to-bed books.

    By Blogger Chad The Elder, at 6:31 PM  

  • My boys adored 'Love You Forever' by Robert Munsch. They liked to watch the baby grow and find the cvat in every picture. Plus, they loved the little song-
    "I'll love you forever,
    I'll like you for always,
    as long as I'm living
    my baby you'll be."
    I still can't read it w/o tearing up.
    Also, any Little Critter book from Mercer Meyer. The boys could always find Critter's pet mouse or spider.

    By Anonymous middleagedhousewife, at 9:21 PM  

  • These are great suggestions.

    Because of a longer text, I didn't mention one of our family favorites, DADDY MAKES THE BEST SPAGHETTI, which takes a boy through the evening to bedtime. Cody and Daddy shop for ingredients and make a spaghetti dinner together.

    While he and Mommy wash dishes, Daddy reappears as "Bathman," complete with bath-towel cape and shower-cap cowl. Next Daddy appears barking, with ears made from the boy's pj bottoms. Bedtime ends with hugs from both Mommy and Daddy.

    Available in a board edition, it's a loving, funny story for older toddlers, especially when they are old enough to get the "Batman" joke. Like GOODNIGHT, MOON, it cozily celebrates the joy of the small details of daily life.

    By Blogger GTC, at 9:25 AM  

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