I threw away my first book the other day. I don’t believe in censorship, but this was a book I never want a young child to see, so it ended up in my trash. My cast-off was a board book, a book with each page made of thick cardboard constructed especially for babies who might be exploring a book by chewing and handling. The title of this baby book was “Star Wars: Villains.”
The cover featured a picture of Darth Vader’s black helmeted head with his light saber, ever ready. Inside were pictures of all the major bad guys in the Star Wars movies. Online I found that there is a companion book called “Star Wars: Heroes.”
It’s not that I think that “Villains” would be especially harmful to read to a baby, but why would anyone think a baby would even be interested? Scary faces from a PG movie? The format is the wrong choice for the content. The publishers are marketing to parents, not to little babies.
This is the sad fate of many great picture books, too. A good selling book, or in the case of Star Wars, a good selling story turned phenomenon, is marketed to parents of babies to broaden potential sales. Some picture books translate well into board books, but some do not. If the content is too complex, the pictures too detailed, or the story too long, the picture book may not make the best board book.
Board books are a wonderful invention and the perfect way to introduce books to the smallest of children. It’s easy to find lots of great board books to buy or to borrow, just keep baby in mind when you are choosing.
Babies like to look at pictures that are bold and colorful (black and white for newborns) or people’s faces. Babies like to hear rhythm and rhyme, so a good story read aloud is like music to their ears. Babies are beginning to learn the names of things so they also like books with just a few words that relate to their world.
Here are some recommended board books that are just right for newborn babies through 18 months. Have fun reading to your little one!
“Baby Dance” by Ann Taylor
“Baby Faces,” a DK book“Counting Kisses” by Karen Katz
“From Head to Toe” by Eric Carle
“I Like It When” by Mary Murphy
“Itsy Bitsy Spider” by Annie Kubler
“Peek-a-Boo” by Roberta Grobel Intrater
“Say Goodnight” by Helen Oxenbury
“Ten, Nine, Eight” by Molly Bang