Thursday, July 28, 2011


The game of peek-a-boo allows a baby to explore one of the most important concepts in his early experience of the world: object permanence. The book Peek-a-Who? by Nina Laden, builds on this idea by incorporating a guessing game into the peek-a-boo exchange.

According to psychologist Jean Piaget, the concept of object permanence is the beginning of a child’s understanding that objects continue to exist even if the child cannot see, hear or touch them. The game of peek-a-boo plays with this idea because a person hides his or her face from the baby, but the baby can still hear the person’s voice and see that they’re still there.

Peek-a-Who? uses die-cut pages so the baby can see the parent or caregiver through the opening in the page. As they get familiar with the riddles in the book, they see that the black-and-white background belongs to the cow (“Peek a… MOO!”) and the railroad tracks belong to the train (“Peek a… CHOO-CHOO!”). As they begin to sound out the words, they can chant along with the parent or reader. Until such time as they can chime in verbally, they can grasp the thick board book pages with their fingers; the die-cut pages help even the earliest-developing motor skills along.

This is not a new book (it was published in 2000), but it was new to me. A colleague at Chronicle Books pointed out that it was their top-selling board book, so I had to have a look. Now I see why it’s been a success with so many families. It taps into a baby’s every developmental stage—eye contact, motor skills, and, eventually, rhyming sounds and predictability.

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