Friday, February 22, 2013

Board Book Benefits

Interior from You Are My Baby: Farm

If you have a baby or toddler in your life, you already know the benefits of board books. You Are My Baby: Farm and Safari by Lorena Siminovich are my idea of the ideal board book. Because they were created as board books from their inception, the author-artist designed and executed them with very youngest children and very smallest hands in mind.

I got to hear renowned pediatrician and literacy advocate Dr. Perri Klass speak at the Bank Street College of Education a few years ago, and she talked about the importance of board books to the training of her pediatric residents. She said that they could learn everything they need to know by watching babies and toddlers handle board books. Do they pick up the board book by the spine? Can they turn the pages (motor skills)? Do they hold the book in its proper orientation (recognizing the images and viewing them right-side up)? Can they focus on what's in front of them?

Author-artist Siminovich presents each animal with one easily identifiable feature (a piglet's "curly, pink tail," a chick's "soft, yellow feathers") and the sound it makes ("Oink! Oink!"; "Peep! Peep!"). She essentially divides the book in two, with the baby animals having their own mini-book within the book. To help children match up the mother with her baby, Siminovich creates a background that serves as a puzzle would, allowing babies and toddlers to complete the picture. And at this age, the attachment to their own mothers is very strong, so the act of matching the cow with her calf, the horse with her foal, is in itself reassuring to babies and toddlers.

As you likely know, I love to extol the virtues of board books' endurance. Children can take them to bed, sleep on them, chew on them, drop them from a high chair, and Mom, Dad or Grandma can throw them in a back pack and keep them in the back seat for a long car ride.

It's so important that youngest children think of books as theirs, to have and to hold, to collect and to keep. And board books can handle their readers' rugged lifestyles.

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