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Board Books: Susan

Posted by Susan on May 13, 2009 at 12:06 AM in Board Books
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So, you can't wait to start reading to your baby. But your audience tends eat everything they can get their hands on including the books you're trying to read.

Not a problem, board books are the answer! They are smaller, durable, and should stand up to the average book-eating child. They're perfect for babies and toddlers, right? Well, the answer tends to vary.

Typically when hardcover books are reformatted into board books, they are abridged and changed from the original. Not every picture book transfers to a board book edition gracefully or effectively.

Guess How Much I Love You.jpgThe board book version of Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney cuts out many of the original illustrations and combines several pictures together. The hardcover edition is much easier to read and the pacing works far better.

Chicka Chicka abc is an abridgement of the wonderful Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. The poor lowercase letters never recover from their fall from the coconut tree the way they do in the original. Plus, we never get to meet the uppercase letters.

Brown Bear Brown Bear.jpg But all adaptations aren't bad. Goodnight Moon makes a delightful board book that preserves all the charm of the original. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? has just the right mixture of white space, rhyme and repetition to be a great board book for babies.

Also, there are many wonderful board books that were written as board books from the start. Sandra Boynton is an author that writes almost exclusively in board book format, with funny, effective, and enjoyable results.

Fuzzy Fuzzy Fuzzy.jpgFuzzy Fuzzy Fuzzy: a touch, skritch & tickle book is one of my favorite examples, because it's truly written for babies. It's slightly larger than typical board books, which makes it easier for babies to see and turn the pages. The pictures are simple, bright and straightforward. There's something to touch or feel on every page, which is a big hit with babies. And best of all, it's funny, something Sandra Boynton was able to accomplish with a mere 26 words. Fuzzy Fuzzy Fuzzy well loved version.JPG

The version I own currently looks quite different from the publisher's picture. (That's just the outside, the inside looks worse). Which goes to show you, even board books can't always withstand the love and rough handling of a baby.

I'm going to be posting a longer list of board book recommendations, but first I want to know which board books you like. Are there particular authors you enjoy? Are there board books your children are fascinated with?


Lynn writes...

This is a great post idea! I have many board book reviews on my site, since that is what my son was reading when I started our blog. Some of his favorites were "Peek-a-Who" (and others) by Nina Laden, "Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks from A to Z," and "Open the Barn Door" (a lift the flap "chunky" board book). He is hot and cold on the Boynton books (some he loves, some he hates); his favorites are "Moo Bah Lalala" and "The Going to Bed Book." I could go on all day. :) I did a post here with some of his favorite board books awhile back.

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Lynn- Thanks for pointing me to your post- you had lots of good books listed there. Peek-a Who is one of my all time favorites and I'm also a fan of Open the Barn Door. Sandra Boynton is terrific, but her books are not all meant for the same age level. Moo Baa La La La; Blue Hat, Green Hat and Opposites are some of the ones that tend to work for the youngest crowd.

Simone writes...

I have been reading board books to my two year old twins for a long time now. They definitely enjoy "Where is Baby's Belly Button" by Karen Katz and they also like the board book versions of Olivia and The Pigeon by Mo Willems. Goodnight Moon has been a long time favorite. Funny they really do not like Guess How Much I Love You board book - maybe it is because of the abridged version. The same thing happened with Chicka Chicka ABC - they like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom much more. I'd love a longer list of good board books. Thanks and I love this new blog.

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Simone- Karen Katz is great, she's another one of those authors that writes (mostly) in board book form. I also like the board book versions of the Pigeon and Olivia because they're not compressed versions of the original books. Tad Hills is another author who uses his characters to create baby appropriate books. I recommend What's Up Duck? and Duck and Goose, 1, 2, 3.

Have you tried the full length version of Guess How Much I Love You? It's much more fun to read out loud than the board book edition. My son actually got mad at me when I read him Chicka Chicka abc, becuase he wanted to know what I had done with the rest of the book. I'm so glad you're enjoying Booklights!

Kristen M. writes...

We are also big fans of the Nina Laden board books -- we have Grow Up! and Peek-a-Who?. Toddlers love a mirror in any book! Dear Zoo is a favorite as are many other "lift-the-flap" books. Yummy Yucky (Leslie Patricelli) is one that still can get the kid laughing and he's five! The classics that we love are Goodnight Gorilla, The Monster at the End of This Book and many of the Eric Carle books. We can't get enough board books in this house!

Sarah N. writes...

My 2yo is currently in love with Byron Barton's The Three Bears and The Little Red Hen in board book form. Some of the first board books she loved were Helen Oxenbury's baby books: Tickle Tickle, Clap Hands, All Fall Down, and Say Goodnight. She's also a huge fan of Dear Zoo and Freight Train by Donald Crews.

Sarah writes...

Favorite board books (these sometimes change for my son, as his favorites seem to depend on what he can get his hands on. He's 21 months old)

For the longest time, he wouldn't sit still and let me read to him. Then, his favorite books were the "word" books. Mostly one particular: Happy Baby Words by Roger Priddy (this one also had the advantage of not falling apart right away when he mouthed it, unlike the similar DK book I purchased)

The first board book he sat down and let me read all the way through to him was Mr. Brown can Moo Can You by Dr. Seuss (And he's been exposed to the full book at a book reading and can't sit still for the full thing)

Another early favorite are the Push & Pop books by Moira Butterfield (That have been discontinued and there is nothing else like it out there :( ) He had the Farm book and Things that Go and LOVED pushing the popped bit back into the book. Also, he could point at something and get us to tell him what it was and be very consistent from one time to another.

Whenever he gets his hands on them, his favorite books right now are Doggies by Sandra Boynton and Moo Baa Lalala by Sandra Boynton (I wish I could "lose" that second book...) He also likes Hippos Go Beserk (maybe cause his parents like it so much when we're reading it?)

Both of these books have the advantage that he can turn the pages back and forth, point at something, and we make the appropriate noise.

He had me read Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar board book to him twice this morning before going in to work. (This is a very new favorite this week, though. Despite parental enjoyment, he didn't use to choose this one at all)

Somehow, we don't have any Karen Katz books.

Sarah writes...

I almost forgot Rainbow Bob. A REALLY large format board book. He doesn't let us "read" it to him. But he loves turning the pages and having us tell him the color, and then getting to open the pages at the end of the book for the LARGE spread. (unfortunately, those are regular pages, not board-book pages so they have been taped up multiple times)

EM writes...

LESLIE PATRICELLI. Let me say it again: LESLIE PATRICELLI. Her brilliant opposite books (BIG LITTLE, QUIET LOUD, YUMMY YUCKY) and non-opposite books (BINKY, BLANKIE) are superb original board books. We heart them all.

(I also eighty-second the Boynton love.)

Andromeda Jazmon writes...

I am interested in finding out what board books you and other readers enjoy that include diverse characters. I have spent quite a bit of time looking for board books that feature black and brown faces and families, as well as multi-ethnic groups and families. I don't think there are enough of these books, particularly for infants and toddlers. I like Jabari Asim's books and Andrea Davis Pinkney's. What else have you found?

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

That's an excellent question and worthy of its own post. Stay tuned.

Jody writes...

My son is 22 months old and is just now starting to love "Tickle Tickle" by Helen Oxenbury. The book is one of a series of short, large-format board books by this author. My son loves pictures of babies and this series is all about babies.

The book is only four "pages" long, but it has a wonderful rhyming sequence that ends with tickling. My son anticipates this tickling with great glee and starts squealing with delight even before I start to tickle him! The book was a gift; I also picked up "Say Goodnight" from the same author, but it doesn't have the same humorous punch line.

We also have "Where is Baby's Belly Button," by Karen Katz, but the flaps are so flimsy that they were quickly ripped out and now the book isn't as much fun or of as much interest to him. "Dear Zoo" has much more durable flaps; I wish that all book publishers of flap books would use this as a model.

Jody writes...

Andromeda: Take a look at the Helen Oxenbury books I mentioned above. She includes a diverse cast of babies and parents.

dawn writes...

For earliest board book, we love Baby Faces and What's On My Head, by Margaret Miller.
I also love all the Eric Carle ones, the favorite in our house was From Head to Toe.

shar writes...

I love Andromeda's question, but would ask for board books that have diversity in terms of Asian children/themes..

we recently adopted a child from China, and am finding a paucity of books featuring children with Asian heritage...

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Shar- I completely agree with you, it's extremely tough to find board books with Asian characters. I mentioned it in the post I wrote to answer Andromeda's question.

There are several that have pictures of Asian babies, but I haven't found one that primiarily features an Asian character. It's a real problem and I'm hoping authors and illustrators will help fill the gap in the years to come.

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