Sunday, February 14, 2010

Board Books

Children's librarians often reccomend board books to parents of very young children. But what exactly is a board book? Wikipedia defines a board book as "a type of book published on hard cardboard. This cardboard is used for the cover as well as the pages, unlike a typical book with cardboard binding and paper pages, and is intended to be durable enough for small children to use and play with." Board books are usually a small size and so are suitable for small hands. They are also relatively inexpensive so they make a great start to a child's personal library. Allow your child to handle these books and play with them. Yes, they will be chewed on and tossed around but at some point your child will start turning pages and looking at pictures.

When choosing board books for your child, look for books with simple, bold pictures for infants and babies. Books that have a simple plot will appeal to toddlers. Often publishers will republish a popular picture book in board book form. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't. Often the original illustrations are cropped to fit the smaller format or the plot may be too complex for younger children. You know your child best so look through each book before making your selection.

Margaret Miller's photography brings her books for babies to life. Baby Food, I Love Colors, Me & My Bear, and What's on My Head? all feature color photos of babies which will appeal to infants. Little ones will also enjoy looking at Smile! by Roberta Grobel Intrater with its simple rhyme and smiling baby faces. Baby at Home by Monica Wellington has simple but colorful illustrations of items around the house that a baby might see such as a rattle, blocks and keys.

Michel Blake's Off to Bed is about a little girl getting ready for bed and features named objects highlighted in color against a black and white photograph. I like this because a child can see the named object in context. For "toothbrush" the photo is of the little girl brushing her teeth and the toothbrush she is using is bright pink. Blake's Colors consists of photos of plants and animals each shown awash in a single color.

Rain Feet by Angela Johnson is a charming book featuring a simple poem about a child playing in the rain. Mama Mama by Jean Marzollo is also a lovely book. A simple rhyme accompanies an illustration of a mother animal and her baby. Laura Regan's illustrations showing the animals in their natural habitats are large enough to fill a page and are soft but realistic. The bond between mother and child comes out in these simple yet effective illustrations.

Toddlers will enjoy Byron Barton's bold illustrations. Trucks shows different kinds of trucks working throughout the day (and night). Let's Go! illustrated by Gaetan Evrard labels various modes of transportation in both English and Spanish. Let's Get to Work! does the same for various construction vehicles and trucks.

Mick Inkpen has written several board books about Wembly Pig. Wembly Pig Opens His Presents starts with an intriguing pile of wrapped gifts which are opened one by one though it turns out that the wrapping paper provides the most fun. Wembly uses his imagination when he plays in Wembly Pig Can Make a Tent. Wembly shows the reader what he likes in Wembly Pig Likes Bananas and invites the reader to choose a favorite as well.

Nursery rhymes and familiar songs have also been published in board book form. Rosemary Wells has illustrated several songs such as Bingo, The Itsy-Bitsy Spider and Old MacDonald. Her nursery rhyme collections include Humpty Dumpty and Other Rhymes, Little Boy Blue and Other Rhymes and Wee Willie Winkie and Other Rhymes.

This is just a sampling of board books. The library is not just for older children. Bring your little one in to explore your library's collection of board books.