Recommended Board Books
Non-Existent Blog Reader Asks: Help! I'm thirty-something, all my friends are simultaneously reproducing, and I need to buy holiday presents for their babies. I want to buy them books, but I know they aren't ready to read Tamora Pierce or Bruce Coville yet. What should I get them?
Sarah Answers: Glad you asked. As with any genre, there's a wide range of board books out there. I do have a couple recommendations:
Anything by Sandra Boynton. Her illustrations are adorable, and her texts are witty. Plus you can get sets of them in gift boxes. The boxes themselves make excellent toys. (What is it with kids and boxes? Or cats and boxes?) Anyway, my favorites are: MOO BAA LA LA LA (baby-approved -- apparently very tasty), BUT NOT THE HIPPOPATAMUS (adult-approved -- the final joke always cracks me up), and HIPPOS GO BERSERK (gotta love the word "berserk" connected with "hippos").
SHEEP IN A JEEP by Nancy E. Shaw and Margot Apple. Initially, I was wary of this book because it includes a humorous car crash, and I worried that portraying car crashes as funny was teaching the wrong message. Then I snapped out of it. (Click here for an article about the "dangers" of another baby book, GOODNIGHT MOON). The rhythms and rhymes in this book make it a very fun read and a toddler-favorite.
THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT by Edward Lear and Jan Brett. My husband and I had our bridal party recite this poem at our wedding. We have since issued apologies to the reader who had to stand there and say "and there in a wood, a Piggy-Wig stood!" But it does make a nice poem to read to a baby. And this version... the illustrations are magnificent. If you look closely, you'll see there's actually a B Plot. I've never seen a board book with a subplot. Look for the yellow fish on each page -- there's a secondary love story told in the illustrations.
DADDY KISSES by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben. This is the best book ever written. Reason is: each page describes how a daddy animal kisses his baby cub/kitten/froglet/whatever. If your baby has learned to kiss, then the word "kiss" will prompt him/her to kiss you after each page. There is nothing in the world better than a baby kiss.