The Importance of Board Books
Here’s my granddaughter, Adelaide, at nearly 23 months sitting surrounded by her books. From the time Adelaide was born all of us around her read to her and as soon as she was able, she began looking at books herself. She loves Elmo so you’ll notice some Sesame Street books around her. Notice too some board books that other toddlers her age love. There are a couple of Karen Katz books (I love her art) and even the ever wonderful Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Not every book on the floor is a classic – it’s about pulling her into the world of literacy and I think you can say she’s a fan!
I would love to be able to go inside her head here to see what she is making of this book. She’s clearly looking at the caterpillar. The primarily black and white palette pulls her eye in. I wonder what she thinks about that caterpillar? Wouldn’t you love to know? Adelaide is five months old in this photo and likes books so much that she can sit and look at them for short periods of time. Hey, she’s only five months old! 🙂 Adelaide does have some cloth books but overwhelmingly her collection is board books. Board books are such a great introduction to the world of books. They are built for those little hands that grasp them so fiercely and they aren’t ruined when a puddle of drool lands on them. Little ones are hard on all of their toys and books. They throw them, step on them, and teethe on them. Thank heavens that board books are durable and built to last!
At six months Adelaide loves looking at photographs of dogs and kitties and especially likes books that have texture to them. She uses all of her senses to learn about the world and this board book fits the bill. Notice her little finger feeling the dog’s fur on the page. Now she can associate doggies with soft fur. Bit by bit she’ll develop the concept of what a dog is.
At eight months and already mobile, Adelaide knows to go to her big bin that is chock full of books that she loves. She is now pointing to pictures as we read to her and she is in charge of turning the pages. How lucky she is to have so many books to choose from! There is no such thing as too many books, is there? 🙂 Adelaide does like picture books as well. Favorites include Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes and any Duck and Goose. In general, though, her favorites are board books. There are always a few in the car to occupy her when traveling.
Board books didn’t always have the range of titles that they do now. Publishers did the classics, of course, Good Night, Moon and others, but as the demand for these sturdy little bits of literature took off, the titles began coming and coming. Walk into a brick and mortar Barnes & Noble and head to the children’s section. You will be knocked out by the sheer numbers of available board books for little ones. I have to admit I am surprised by some of the titles – some I don’t think are really made for the little readers. Go for the ones that rhyme whenever you can. Children love the lilt of the words and having an ear tuned to rhyme helps children move into reading more readily when the time comes.
I love all the board books by Leslie Patricelli, Karen Katz, Denise Fleming and absolutely any titles from Lois Ehlert. Sandra Boynton is a huge favorite with the toddler crowd. I have always liked them but until Adelaide came along I wasn’t aware of how popular they are with toddlers. I hardly have to mention Dr. Seuss, right? He’s the king of rhyme. How about Is Your Mama a Llama?, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, Jamberry, Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?, and Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle? All great choices.
My very favorite book in board book format as well as in picture book format is Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet & Allen Ahlberg. It follows many of the nursery rhyme characters in an “I Spy” book and the language is wonderful. I will try to put together a list of my very favorites soon and post it to the site. In the meantime, read to the little one in your life as often as you can.
*Special thanks to Adelaide’s mom, Sarah, who sends me these wonderful pictures and for reading to her every day.