This website is accessible to all versions of every browser. However, you are seeing this message because your browser does not support basic Web standards, and does not properly display the site's design details. Please consider upgrading to a more modern browser. (Learn More).

You are here: home > arts & entertainment > books

Baby board books you can sink your teeth into

By Adrienne Ehlert Bashista
Posted Thursday, January 22, 2004

e-mail E-mail this page   print Printer-friendly page

a column about books for kids

Baby Board Books. Baby Board Books. Baby Board Books. Say it three times fast!

My eighteen month old wants books that can be experienced quickly.

I have an eighteen month old. I have an eighteen month old who, until four months ago, lived in an orphanage in another country and, as far as I can tell, had rarely experienced a book before. They fascinate him (one of his first words was ook!) but his attention span is about two minutes at best. Because of that we’ve been adding to the collection of board books we started when his older brother was a baby. My newest one has little patience for plot or characterization nor does he care about great illustrations. He wants books that can be experienced quickly, have little or no plot, and are very interactive.

(For parents of babies and toddlers, no explanation of the words “board book” is necessary, but for the rest of you, a board book is a book of very few pages that is made out of hard cardboard to stand up to ripping, stomping, and chewing. Especially chewing).

Animal Kisses, by Barney Saltzberg (Harcourt, 0-15-202340-2) is one of our new favorites. Each spread invites the baby to kiss an animal, and each animal has marvelously textured lips. The cat’s lips are scratchy, the bear’s lips are fuzzy, and the pig’s lips are squeaky. My son loves to kiss and lick and scratch the animals in the book. The only downside is that you really shouldn’t give it away when your child outgrows it. Too much slobbery loving for that. It’s a one-owner book.

Another book along the same theme is Counting Kisses, by Karen Katz (Simon & Schuster, 0-689-85658-X). Katz is the author of Over the Moon, one of our favorite books about adoption, and this book shares the bright, bold illustrations that characterized that earlier book. In Counting Kisses a tired baby is kissed to sleep – first her ten toes, then her feet, then her chubby knees, all the way to the top of her sleepy head. As I read this book to my son I follow along with the pictures, kissing my son’s toes, his knees, etc. Pausing to name and kiss each body part helps to keep his interest, although I have to admit that the end result for him is not sleep. He wants more loving!

Also by Katz is a lift-the-flap book, Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? (Simon & Schuster, 0-689-83560-4) This book is great fun although not as indestructible as the other board books as the flaps are thinner cardboard and could be easily ripped off by an enthusiastic reader. Where is Baby’s Belly Button invites the reader to play peek-a-boo with the babies in the pictures. Like Katz’s Kisses book, lively illustrations coupled with interactivity proves irresistible.

Finally, My Big Animal and World Book (for kids who really love animals and the world) (Priddy Books, 0-312-49202-2) is a super sized baby dictionary, chock-full of photographs of animals and plants and locations and anything to do with the great outdoors. There are probably lots of books like this one on the market, but this particular one has given both my boys hours of enjoyment. When we unwrapped it on Christmas morning I saw it as a way to build my little one’s vocabulary. I pictured myself, cozy on the couch, baby in my lap, enriching his language skills while providing important visual stimulation. That’s not what happened. He puts up with Mommy naming each animal or place or vehicle one by one for a little while, but his favorite thing is to find the pictures of the tigers and lions and growl. Now that’s interactivity.

Next column: the awards. Newbery, Caldecott, Prinz, oh my!


Adrienne Ehlert Bashista is a writer, librarian, and mother of two small children who lives near Silk Hope, NC. Her website is

Copyright 2004. Adrienne Ehlert Bashista. All rights reserved.

Related info:
Book Talker
e-mail E-mail this page
print Printer-friendly page
Baby board books you can sink your teeth into

Related info:
Book Talker
Arts & Entertainment

Got Feedback?
Send a letter to the editor.

Sign up for the Chatham Chatlist.

Promote your brand at

Subscribe now: RSS news feed, plus FREE headlines for your site