Reality is a magical place.
If you are not in awe of it, you can be sure you’ve lost touch with it.
And touching it is only a beginning to actually grasping it.
G. K. Chesterton
In BWCB Episode 2: Let the Adventure Begin we think about what role our early reading choices make in our child’s formation. I propose that board books are the first way we assist our children as they wonder, “What…IS?”and “Who am I?” I reflect on the meaning of my name, since it has framed my own the answer to these two questions. I wonder, could it be that each child has a “word” that helps him understand the story of his life?
In Episode 2: Let the Adventure Begin, I encourage us to see how the repetition that comes with reading to very little children can be a gift. Repetition is a valuable gift to the child and an opportunity for us to look past monotony to something deeper. I suggest three practical ideas to guide your board book choices.
Questions to guide your book choices for Baby:
1) Is the book beautiful to look at? Is it clear what is being illustrated? Look for books with simple, beautiful, naturalistic illustrations. We want to facilitate our child’s recognition of “what is.” Illustrations should be easily recognized for what they’re representing.
2) Is it too realistic? Photos or cartoons? This stage of baby-toddlerhood is not a good time for abstract or overly geometric representations, or too much fantasy. But since we want to engage our child’s connectivity—asking their mind to work--it’s best to steer clear of illustrations that are too cartoonish or are simply photos. Photos can substitute for the good work of thinking and making connections.
3) Are the words interesting, curious, rhythmic, or rhyming? Children are acquiring language with staggering rapidity at this stage. Let’s honor this by giving them books with delightful sounds, rhythms, and rhymes. It’s good for their physical and verbal development—of course! But it is also FUN. Language is delightful. And if the language is high-quality, it will be less painful when you inevitably memorize it. (You're welcome.)
Mother Goose by Kate Greenaway or Blanche Fisher Wright or Mary Englebreight
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
Mini-Masters Boxed Set by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober
JamBerry by Bruce Degeen
Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
Baby’s Box of Fun by Karen Katz
I Am a Bunny by Ole Risom and Richard Scary
Best Little Board Book Ever by Richard Scary
Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carl
From Head To Toe by Eric Carl
Polar Bear, Polar Bear by Eric Carl
World of Eric Carle by Eric Carl
Around the Farm by Eric Carl
All My Little Ducklings by Monica Wellington
Hush, Little Baby: A Folk Song with Pictures (not a board book) by Marla Freeze
The House That Jack Built by Diana Mayo
Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora
Silly Sally by Audrey Wood
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle
Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle
Flora and the Chicks by Molly Idle
Animals in the Jungle by Kenneth Lilly
Animals in the Country by Kenneth Lilly
Animal Swimmers by Kenneth Lilly
(last two aren't board books)
The Animal Atlas by Kenneth Lilly
Kenneth Lilly’s Animals by Kenneth Lilly
The Little Auto by Lois Lenski
The Little Airplane by Lois Lenski
The Little Sailboat by Lois Lenski
The Little Train by Lois Lenski
The Little Farm by Lois Lenski
The Little Fire Engine by Lois Lenski
Cowboy Small by Lois Lenski
Policeman Small by Lois Lenski
Gossie and Gertie and Friends by Oliver Dunrae