It seems like if it's a board book, people automatically think it will be good for babies. But let me tell you, those cardboard pages are not created equally. Here are three board books released in the last year that get our stamp of approval:
1. Bizzy Bear: Let's Go and Play by Benji Davies
Want to know the main reason I love this one? It is baby-proof, toddler-proof, kid-proof sturdy. The pages are made of super thick cardboard, which does have the downside of making the book only four pages long (or is that an upside?). The moveable parts are all set inside the pages so little fingers can't rip or pull apart or otherwise destroy the very things that make the book fun (like a swing that moves back and forth, a window shade that pushes up, etc.)
The rhymes are something a 7-year-old could write, but they're catchy and simple, and that pleases the young crowd in this house.
There are four Bizzy Bear books, but our library doesn't have the newest two yet. (But I've heard Off We Go includes some pretty amazing cardboard creations, so I'm anxious to look at it.)
2. Yawn by Sally Symes
After you've read 112,976 children's books (a rough estimate), you know that about half of those involve animals in one form or another. A truly predictable approach is to feature one animal per page. What I love about this book is that it takes that classic structure but uses it in a unique way.
It begins with Sean (a little boy, not an animal) who, getting sleepy, gives a great big yawn. His cat catches the yawn, gives one of his own and then passes it on to a bird. The pattern continues until everyone has yawned and fallen asleep.
Using a large open-mouthed hole, all of the characters literally share the same yawn. I love that it teaches the nature of a yawn and that it holds the interest of small children by showcasing animals they know and love.
My only warning (or should I say, challenge?): I dare you to make it through this book without giving a yawn or two of your own!
3. Animal 123 by Britta Teckentrup
If you've tried to find books that teach math concepts to very young children, you know it's a difficult feat to find a good one. Sure, there are oodles of counting books, but very little beyond that unless you're looking for something more advanced and appropriate for older children.
But Animal 123 fits the bill perfectly. It introduces very basic addition. It begins with one snake, but then a little number flap on the side opens up, and magic! Now there are two snakes (1+1=2). On the next page, there are two elephants until the flap is opened, and then there are three (2+1=3).
For Bradley (8.5 months), it is perfect because it has big, simple pictures with lots of contrast. For Maxwell (2 years), it is perfect because he loves to try to count the animals. For Aaron (almost 4), it is perfect because he understands the concept of adding one and with each page says something like, "Look! 4+1=5!" So from baby to preschool, it's really very versatile.
(And, okay, technically it's probably not considered a "board" book, but the pages are heavy-weight, so I think it's still fits in that category. Let's not be too picky, all right?)