By Amber Johnson, Youth Services Library Assistant
As babies grow into toddlers and begin exploring the world around them, books play a very important role. Books offer an experience outside of their everyday world, as well as access to vocabulary and concepts that will be important as their language develops. Not unlike other objects in their lives, babies interact with books by chewing on them and throwing them around. Because of these developmentally appropriate actions, it is vital to offer sturdy books for them to play with. Enter the board book. A board book is made of thick paperboard. The paperboard is used for the covers and the inside pages. A board book is specially scored, folded and bound, unlike traditional hardback binding. Board books are generally smaller than paperback or hardback picture books, making them easier for tiny hands to grasp. Manhattan Public Library has a great selection of board books. Here are a few that we might suggest starting with.
Touch and feel books: Even though they don’t yet have words to describe what they are experiencing, babies take in the world around them with all their senses. Books that have different textures that the baby can feel only expands their view. Putting books in their mouths is a developmentally appropriate action. Having shiny and dull illustrations offers depth perception understanding. Offer them books about animals that have pretend fur and scales. Check out books with vehicles that are squishy and shiny. The DK Touch and Feel series is a great series to start with when introducing your child to sensory books.
High contrast books: Some board books contain illustrations only in black and white. The high contrast in color of these books is developmentally appropriate for younger babies. When very young, babies can only take in illustrations or things around them when there is a stark difference in color value. As they develop their eyesight, introducing books with bright colors is a great idea. Author Tana Hoban has many books with simple black and white illustrations.
Simple concept books: It is never too early to introduce simple learning concepts to babies. Books that feature numbers, colors and the alphabet will help them begin their journey of learning. Teaching shapes to children directly correlates to their learning of numbers and the alphabet. These books also allow them to flip around in the book instead of reading it straight through. A few good titles to consider are ABC Alphabet Fun and My Very First Book of Numbers.
Books with real photos: As is true for adults, it is important for babies to see themselves in books, as well as things and people that are different from them. Many board books feature photos of babies expressing different emotions, or photos of real animals or toys. When babies see real photos in the books they are reading, it makes it easier for them to identify objects and people in real life. I See Me is a great example of a book that contains photos of babies on the move.
Nursery rhyme books: Reading books with rhymes helps children develop a sense of rhythm when reading. Hearing similar sounds over and over gives meaning to the words themselves. Books containing nursery rhymes allow parents to repeat the same rhymes over and over again, solidifying the rhythm and flow of the text. Manhattan Public Library offers collections such as The Real Mother Goose Board Book or books with just one rhyme as the text of the book, like Humpty Dumpty.
Manhattan Public Library has hundreds of board books available for checkout, including the aforementioned titles and series. Library card holders have no limit as to the amount of books they can check out. Youth Services staff are available to recommend more good titles and to talk more about early literacy skills and child development.