Yes, of course.  End of blog post. How about a nice cup of tea now?

Guess that won’t do, now will it? 😉

Questions from non-librarian folks do me good. They bring me back to the real world and out of my tunnel vision land of assumptions.

She was ordering books online as gifts for two children. One of the books was listed as a board book. “What is a board book?” she asked.

Gooood question! 🙂

Here’s the nutshell on board books:

  • They are primarily for children ages birth through 3-ish.
  • They are small (usually), the better for little hands to handle them.
  • They are made of heavy, thick materials so that they can endure the hazards that happen at these earliest ages when one is learning about books. These include mouthing, early attempts at page turning, and juice cup spills among others.
  • They usually have a few clear pictures or drawings and few words.
  • Many have no actual story. Why? Because children ages babies to 3-ish aren’t really ready for stories yet. Their eyes are still learning to focus and they are still learning to recognize the “things” of their world. They love and prefer pictures of babies and activities of their daily life (eating, taking a walk, playing with blocks, seeing a puppy, hearing a fire engine, etc.). Of course, as they get closer to age 3, shorter stories become interesting as well.
  • They are also ideal as special books that begged to be played with–for instance, books with cutaways and holes for peeking through or poking into.

Board books give young children the best chances for success as they begin learning about books. Asking children to do something they are not yet ready to do (like keeping things out of their mouths or turning pages gently) sets them up for frustration–and can lead adults to fussing at them. Negative experiences and emotions get associated with the book and the reading, leading to a decrease in interest in books and reading years later.

Finally, learning takes time and lots and lots of repetition. Playing with, exploring (poking, prodding, chewing, dropping etc.), pretending to read, and yes, even being read to can happen over and over and over again with board books for many years.

Board books are real books. They are real books for real kids of a certain age with certain needs and certain interests. Simply because they are age appropriate doesn’t make them less a book. You would never give a one year old a Neil Gaiman novel to read nor What is on My Head? to a sixty-five year old, yet both are equally a “real” book.

So feel confident this holiday season as you shop for babies through three year olds, that board books are a great choice for them!

Happy Holidays,

Babette

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