Board books are typically a child’s first introduction to the world of books. They introduce children to stories, literature, and printed words. Board books are made of sturdy cardboard, making them durable. Their size and materials make them perfect for small hands to hold and turn pages.
In the blog post, we will cover the purpose of board books, their benefits, and how to choose quality board books for babies and toddlers. Instead of spending money on a novelty board book with today’s popular cartoon character on the cover, you can find the perfect board book to connect with your child and help them connect with their world.
What is the purpose of a board book?
So, what is a board book? It only seems natural that we start with the basics. Board books are made of sturdy cardboard, making them durable. Their size and materials make them perfect for small hands to hold and turn pages.
Board books are typically a child’s first introduction to the world of books. They introduce children to stories, literature, and printed words.
High-quality board books also introduce young readers to topics in simple, engaging ways. Simple concepts such as counting, opposites, animals, and types of vehicles are all appropriate for board books.
What ages are board books for?
Most board books are for infants and toddlers. I use the term “toddler” loosely around Well Beings.
Even three-year-olds will enjoy board books, and we should not assume that a third birthday means a child stops loving a cherished board book.
Let’s be honest, a favorite book is a favorite for a reason. Preschoolers and early elementary children may continue to adore their favorite board books.
Benefits of board books
Let’s dig into it. Board books have many, many benefits. Board books can be used to both introduce topics or extend a child’s learning and interests.
Board books help children develop pre-reading skills, such as letter recognition and sound discrimination. They also provide a foundation for early language development.
In addition, board books can promote bonding between parent and child and foster a love of reading.
Board books and language skills
Board books help children develop language skills, such as vocabulary, pronunciation, and sentence structure. Not only do board books introduce language, but they also inspire discussions that build communication skills.
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Board books and motor skills
Board books help children develop motor skills, such as hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. By design, board books are made so that small hands can manipulate the pages without ripping.
For very young babies, board books are a perfect tummy time activity. You can prop these hard, cardboard books up for babies to look at, reach for, and roll towards.
Board books and cognitive skills
Board books help children develop cognitive skills. Board books introduce concepts such as shapes, colors, numbers, and more at a very young reader’s level.
Recognizing symbols is a cognitive (and emergent reading) skill. Toddlers begin to understand that the print on the page connects to the words they hear. The illustrations also represent real things from their environment. A cartoon-like drawing of a cat represents the adorable furry critter on the couch beside them.
Quality board books extend a child’s attention. Favorite board books also build a child’s memory skills.
Board books and sensory stimulation
Board books help children explore new textures, sounds, and visuals. Illustrations in board books are often a child’s first introduction to art appreciation.
Some books are focused on sensory stimulation and encourage children to touch, trace, and manipulate the parts of the book.
Board books and social skills
For older kids, reading time is often a time to gather together. They take turns reacting to the story or have discussions with the adult reading the book. These book conversations help children connect with the characters in the book and build understanding and empathy for peers.
Reading is usually a one-on-one interaction with a nurturing caregiver for very young children. Even just cuddling up to read builds a baby or toddler’s sense of safety and connection. Board books also inspire conversations, open-ended questions, and new ideas.
How to choose a board book
When choosing a board book, quality is essential.
- Look for board books that have just the right amount of text. Pages stuffed with text are not fun for the reader or the audience.
- A quality board book has a purpose. This could be a great storyline, a developmentally-appropriate concept (colors, emotions, families), or an engaging rhyme or song. Board books focused on famous popular characters are usually novelty money grabs with no substance. (Too harsh?)
- Choose a book you will enjoy reading to your child. The younger the child, the more important the experience of reading together. Once you have instilled a love of books and reading, you can use books to extend their interests and learning.
Board Book Activities for Babies
- Set a circle of board books around your baby during tummy time. Placing the books just out of reach encourages your baby to move.
- Each Lovevery Play Kit includes books, along with other play-based learning activities. Their app gives caregivers creative ideas for using the toys and books in their play kits.
- Give ripped books a second life. Display pages above a changing table, on the floor (sealed in clear contact paper), or on the wall at the baby’s eye level.
- Subscribe to a children’s book club. My favorite book club has monthly boxes for infants and includes hands-on learning activities.
- Create book-themed treasure baskets with props—for example, toy animals for characters in a book about animals.
Are board books the same as hardcover books?
No, board books and hardcover books are not the same. Don’t let the hard, cardboard covers fool you. Hardcover book pages are made of paper and are not as durable as board books. You can still add hardcover books to your child’s library. You will just want to wait until they are ready before letting them handle these books alone.
What about board books and paperback books?
Board books and paperbacks are different. Paperbacks are made of paper and are not as durable as board books.
The great thing about paperback books is that they are usually the most affordable type of children’s book. You can still add paperback books to your child’s library, but you may need to wait until your child is older before giving them unsupervised access to paperback books.
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How to store board books
An overstuffed bookshelf or book bin will overwhelm young kids. Instead, it would be best to choose a few board books to display at your child’s eye level. Display a few books on the bottom shelf of a bookcase or place them in a floor basket. Then rotate books regularly or as your child’s interests change.
At home, you can keep board books:
- In the car
- Beside the bed
- In a tote to take outside
For educators, I recommend finding ways to add board books to every classroom center.
Here are some ideas:
- Display books about food and babies in the dramatic play center.
- Place books about construction can live in the block center.
- Set books with bug books or weather books next to the window.
- Add books with creative illustrations to the art center.
Get creative with it (I know that’s already how your teacher’s mind works).
Board books are a great way to introduce children to the world of reading. They are made of sturdy cardboard, making them durable and easy for small hands to hold and turn pages. Board books introduce concepts at infant and toddler developmental levels, making them the perfect way to introduce children to learning and new interests.
If you’re looking for more board books to add to your child’s library, be sure to check out my board book lists on Bookshop.org. You’ll find classic board books, nature-based books, and Indestructibles.