It’s never too early to start reading to your baby and board books are the perfect way to introduce them to the concept of reading, area librarians agree.
“Reading aloud with an infant is different than it is with an older child,” says Beverly Allyn Izzi, youth services coordinator for Calvert Library. “You may not read the whole book, the child may want to hold the book, turn the pages and even chew on it. These are totally appropriate behaviors for this age.”
Chunky pages are great for babies and toddlers to feel, touch and learn with, says Judy Bausell, a library associate with the Anne Arundel County Public Libraries.
The best books for babies should have few words and be very durable so the child can successfully manipulate it, Izzi says. For the first months of life, simple black and white, high-contrast board books are the best as a baby’s eyes are developing, she says.
Babies also love to see pictures of other baby faces, the librarians agree. Simple rhyming text, nursery rhymes and songs are also good for younger babies, explains Susan Morris, early childhood education specialist with the Howard County Library System.
Animal and construction books are also a big hit because the parent or caregiver can imitate the sound the animal or machine might make, Izzi says. As babies get older, look for books that have flaps to lift, textures to feel, visual surprises to find, as well as concepts such as letters, numbers, colors and shapes, Morris adds.
Great board books to buy
A few board books recommended by the librarians include:
- “Black on White” by Tana Hoban – A high contrast book for infants
- “Ten Tiny Babies” by Karen Katz – A counting book
- Sing Along with Me “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” or “Wheels on the Bus” by Yu-hsuan Huang – Singing and rhyming
- “Honk, Honk! Baa, Baa!by Petr Horacek – Animal sounds
- “Diggers Go” by Steve Light – Construction sounds
- The Global Baby series by Global Baby Fund – Baby faces
- “Belly Button Book!” by Sandra Boynton – Body parts
- “Clap Hands” by Helen Oxenbury – Large illustration of toddlers engaged in everyday activities
By Betsy Stein