Board Books

A Few of our Favorite Little Board Books

Toddler and baby board books are a great invention. They are sturdy, somewhat chewable and a great introduction to reading for young children. They can tell stories or teach colors, numbers, letters and anything else in life that is relevant to their target audience. When your child outgrows these books you may decide to put them away, but don’t get rid of them quite yet. See Sit – Stand – Walk: The Process of Learning to Read (Part II) to find out why. (Note: That post hasn’t been written yet, but I’ll include the link here as soon as it is ready.)

We went through many board books when our son was little. Some were so dull that I’ve blissfully forgotten them, but others were real standouts. In no particular order, here are the ones we loved so much that they made the cut and didn’t get sent to Goodwill.

goodnight gorilla1. Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann – A fresh take on Goodnight, Moon, the beloved classic which we never really enjoyed. In Good Night, Gorilla, a zookeeper says goodnight to all the animals as the gorilla tiptoes behind him and unlocks the cages. The animals follow the zookeeper home, where they try to crawl into his bed for the night. Toddlers who are old enough to understand the story think it’s hilarious.

2. What Shall We Do with the Boo Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell – A set of animals tries to figure out how to get a baby to stop crying. This was a surprise favorite.

Very Hungry Caterpillar3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – This classic story teaches counting and days of the week as a very hungry caterpillar eats and eats and eats… Definitely a keeper.

4. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. – This book is also illustrated by Eric Carle and it teaches colors. I didn’t think it was as good as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but it proved to be useful for reading practice later.

5. One Hungry Monster by Susan Heyboer O’Keefe – A very funny counting book in rhyme. Maybe after reading this book, your toddler won’t be quite so scared of the one hungry monster underneath his bed.

10 little dinos6. Ten Little Dinosaurs by Pattie Schnetzler – “Ten little dinosaurs bouncing on the bed. Pachycephalosaurus fell off and broke his head!” This is another very clever counting book. My husband found a website with audio clips on how to correctly pronounce dinosaur names. This book was not a favorite of our son until he started kindergarten, at which point he asked us to read it so many times we could all quote it from memory.

7. Dr Seuss’s ABC’s – This little alphabet book is a hoot! The board book is a condensed version of the longer book originally written by Dr. Seuss. The shorter (board book) version is better because they fixed some metrical problems. Heads up: If you did not learn phonics as a child, you may find words like “Fiffer-feffer-feff” a little frustrating, but your kids will love it!

Little Fur Family8. The Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown – This read aloud is calm, soothing and just right for bedtime. This was one of our son’s favorites and mine, too. I still remember how it began:

“There was a little fur family
warm as toast
smaller than most
in little fur coats
and they lived in an old wooden tree.”

Are you sleepy, yet?

If I missed your family’s favorite, please put it in the comments.  Coming up next: A Few of our Favorite Picture Books!

Categories: Board Books, Board Books, Children's Books, Reading | Leave a comment

Sit – Stand – Walk: How Children Learn to Read (Part 1: Sit)

This is the first of a three-part series on the process of learning to read.

As different as children are, they still go through the same basic steps to learn their first skills.  Think of a child who learns to walk.  First, they have to learn to sit.  No one jumps out of their bassinet and walks without first learning how to sit.  Then they become mobile, in whatever form that takes. The next step is to stand.  Somehow, they figure out how to stand on their feet.  Finally, they start taking steps and toddle before they become proficient walkers.

I think reading has similar steps to it. This series of posts is abouat the steps I’ve observed kids go through as they learn to read.  I’m not an expert – this is simply based on the observations of a mom who also happens to be a children’s book author, so I pay attention to this stuff.

Part I: Sit

The common advice is that to prepare a child for reading, you should read to the child.  Among other things, this communicates to the child that books are fun, those little squiggles on the page represent words and it increases the vocabulary the child is exposed to.  Some say you should start reading to your child during infancy.  Some say you should read 15, 20, or 30 minutes a day to your child.  We weren’t very regimented about it, and the main reason I read to my son was not to create a great reader but just because it was fun!  That, and he was always on the go so it was often the only time I could get him to sit next to me and snuggle.  We didn’t really do the bedtime story thing – we read when it was convenient or when I needed something for us to do.

I never gave much credence to the advice that you should introduce books at infancy, but we were given a couple chewable books as baby shower gifts and I let my son have them when he was still in the bassinet.  The books included a little board book with black and white pictures in the style that babies are supposed to be able to see.  One day I set the book in front of him upside down.  My husband noticed, and so I said, “What difference does it make?  He’ll think it’s something new.”  In response, our infant bawled his cute little head off until I turned the book right side up.  Hmmm.

From books-to-chew-on we progressed to little board books.  These are great because they are mostly indestructible and are small enough for little hands to hold and turn pages.  Some board books teach colors, some teach numbers, some are good for bedtime, vocabulary or just plain fun.  The library has them by the hundreds, but you’ll probably want to buy your own because the ones from the library often come pre-chewed.  When you feel your child has outgrown this stage, put the books away, but don’t get rid of them, yet.  You’ll find out why in Part 2: Stand.  I’m going to write a separate post about some of our favorite board books soon.

At the board book stage, I also introduced reading newspaper inserts, specifically the fliers from large hardware stores.  My son would point to the pictures of various tools and want to know the names of each one.  One day I got tired of saying, “Saw.  Saw.  Saw,” and I told him the full names.  “Reciprocating saw.  Table saw. Compound miter saw.” (I knew what they were because I read the description in the flyer.) After that, he really impressed people with his vocabulary.

From the little board book stage, children move on to picture books.  These stages overlap a lot.  Picture books have thinner pages which are hard for little hands to turn, and they have more text.  Now there is time for a longer story to develop.  These are the books that children want to hear over and over and over and over and…  If this drives you crazy, check out picture books from the library and return them when you’re done.

We found some absolutely delightful picture books and I’m going to write a separate post about those, too.  Besides traditional picture books, we read some early readers and chapter books.  My preschooler was happy to play with his toys while I read and so I even read chapter books with few pictures.  We read both volumes of the original Winnie-the-Pooh.  Each chapter in these books stands alone and I was frequently begged to read his favorite chapters.  We read children’s story Bibles from cover to cover (not all at once) multiple times.  We read early readers (1st-2nd grade reading level) and these were often his favorites.  We also read numerous alphabet books and these reinforced the concept of the names of the letters and the sounds they make.  Find alphabet books with good rhyme and meter that include your child’s interests and they will want to hear them over and over until they are memorized.

I’m calling exposure to books, vocabulary and the alphabet, SIT.  All this experience sets the stage for the next step: STAND!

Categories: Board Books, Children's Books, Picture Books, Reading, Reading to children, Sit Stand Walk | Leave a comment

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