Friday, 26 April 2013

For the Love of Board Books

Peta Jinnath Andersen is an Online Consultant for Walker Books Australia. Her absolute, forever-and-ever favourite children's books are Guess How Much I Love You, A Bit Lost, Howl's Moving Castle, A Wrinkle in Time, A Monster Calls, and Winnie-the-Pooh.  

I am in love with board books. Even before I had a child, I had a collection of the things. (I had a pretty big general picture book collection, too.) They’re the perfect size to hold; the texture of the thicker stock is smooth and shiny at the same time, like a perfect, perfect apple. And we read them a lot when my son was in the book-to-mouth stage. And some more, when he was in the book-to-banging on the floor stage. And some more, even after he’d progressed to “big boy” books and turning thinner, more delicate pages. 

Here’s the thing about board books: they’re easy to write off. They’re often short on words;
some don’t have a story per se, but comprise collections of objects, or feelings, or sounds, or at least half a dozen other concepts. And this makes it easy to say “oh, that’s just a board book, my kid reads real books now” or “it’s boring, there’s no story”. 

Yet the very the simplicity of the board book is why I adore them. They’re often lovingly crafted with stunning illustrations. The words, while simple, are exactly right for kids learning to read. The first words my son ever read were out of Jez Alborough’s Tall: “mummy”, “Bobo”, and “fall”. Then there are textured, shiny, touchy-feely board books (think our Baby Walker series) – these, too, are full of colour and fun. They’re also a marvellous gateway into art projects. What makes that shiny? Can I do that? Why is that cardboard wobbly? Could I make a house with a wobbly cardboard roof? 

Not sure where to get started on the board book scene? Start with this list of our current ten favourites (in no particular order). 

Ten Beloved Board Books:

1. Animals (Baby Walker) Debbie Powell 
2. Hug, Jez Alborough (Hug beat out Tall in the Jez Alborough books only because I'm biased as it's the first book Mir read to me; Tall is sweet and funny and all around marvelous and deserves a read too.) 
3. Her Day/His Day, Heather Potter
4. Best Bear, Emma Dodd
5. Cars Galore, Peter Stein and Bob Staake
6. Night Night (Baby Walker), Petr Horacek 
7. Huggy Kissy, Leslie Patricelli 
8. Owl Babies, Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson 
9. Friends, Helen Oxenbury 
10. Guess How Much I Love You Colours, Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram

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