So we like to read at our house. Are you surprised by this?
Probably, you shouldn't be.
Recently I've been working on re-expanding our collection of board books. After 6 kids, I noticed it was starting to dwindle from excessive use (read: chewing and drooling) and loss. I found a couple new titles and wanted to share some of our long time (but maybe lesser known) favorites.
First of all, what am I looking for in a board book?
I want language that is simple, but not dumbed down. I don't like made up words or books that skip any sort of point or use poor grammar, simply because they can. Infants and toddlers are in their language explosion and I look for things that are going to build their vocabulary in a big way.
For images I am looking for gentle, natural, and realistic images. I love contrasting colors for younger babies and all babies love real faces. It's never to young to show babies the world through their books.
I tend to use caution with excessive fantasy or overly cartoon-like books for very young babies and toddlers, although I don't mind the occasional talking animal as a main character. In this sense, while we have a few children's classics in board book form, I tend to stay away from ones that portray anything too unrealistic (think of many of the characters in Dr. Suess titles). Do I think babies will be harmed by dogs who walk on two feet or two humped gumps? No, probably not, but you can't read every book by the time your child is three anyways and they will actually enjoy those stories more when they are a little bit older. Why not save them? (If you want to understand a little bit more about how the brain develops understandings of what things are, check out the children's book Swimmy by Leo Lionni)
So which titles are we loving right now? (All images are also Amazon links)
Runaway Bunny (Lap-Size Edition). This is part of a series of jumbo board books that we love to prop up for baby to look at the beautiful art. My toddlers love to read them alone and they are super sturdy! You can find other oversize titles in the series here.
I am Bunny. Bunny travels through the seasons in a complete story. This board book is tall and skinny so it's size makes it uniquely attractive, along with its realistic nature drawings.
Wild Backyard. This title is new in 2016 and I came across it in my recommended titles category on Amazon, I like to try new things every once in awhile and am usually rewarded for my bravery. This title uses realistic drawings of animals that a child might find in their own backyard, along with one sentence for each animal. What I particularly love is the diversity of verbs: pecks, gathers, slurps, nibbles, and more. I can see pulling this book out again with PreK/K students when introducing verbs. Definitely a win for vocabulary building.
Black and White. Another Amazon find, new in 2016 and another win for vocabulary building! This time with descriptive adjective/noun phrases for bold contrasting black and white images. Again a book baby enjoys, that can be pulled out with older kids during language lessons.
Global Babies. This is one of our long time favorites, and is carried in most every Montessori catalog I've seen. The gentle rhyming matches along pictures of babies from around the world, many of them being carried in traditional methods for their region. Each is labeled with their country. Much discussion has been had over the years about which babies are likely to be comfortable and which are carried most like we carry our little ones. Over the years, this title has expanded into a series to include other titles/themes.
Hands Can. Another Montessori favorite, focusing on all of the things that hands can do. Stylistically similar to Global Babies, but generally shows slightly older children.
Mini Master's Series: Sharing with Renoir, Painting with Picasso, & Quiet Time with Cassatt. These are board books with very simple narratives using famous art reproductions as illustrations. We received our first of these titles (Renoir) as a gift many years ago and it remains a favorite. There are still a couple more titles in the series I hope to collect!
Hello Ninja. Ok, this one is just for fun. We like our martial arts, so when I saw this board book from one of our favorite fantasy authors I couldn't resist. Granted it's not really about martial arts either, but it is funny!
Do you have a favorite board book to share with your little ones? I'd love to hear about it, particularly if it is a less well known title! Leave me a comment, you may see your recommendation in a future post!
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