The Goods

When Isla was about four months old, we spent a morning reading Dennis Lee’s Alligator Pie front to back – all 64 pages. In fact, we spent good chunks of our mornings in marathon baby board book reading sessions. It was only natural that I commended myself for instilling a love of literature at such an early age in my offspring. Then Isla learned how to crawl and I realized that it wasn’t her genius IQ and formidable attention span that was keeping her interested in the books, but her lack of mobility. Sigh.

Luckily, most board books take this into account by keeping it short and sweet. Actually, most of my favourite series (as listed below) take this a step further and pare it down to a single word per page. Not only does this make it easy to get through a book in about 30 seconds, it also encourages parents to demonstrate the power of imagination by filling in details that make contextual sense to their own child (which science has shown to be quite effective at positively impacting early reading behaviours). Smart.

1. Les Petits Fairytales, by Trixie Belle and Melissa Caruso-Scott:

We own The Little Mermaid book in the series and it is one of my favourites to “read” (it’s one of those minimal word books). I like the gradual development of the story and Isla likes smacking the pages, so it’s a win-win. I also like how the mermaid ditches the prince at the end in this version. Ha ha.

2. BabyLit, by Jennifer Adams:

Each book in the series focuses on developing a single skill (e.g., opposites, weather, colours) using classic literature as the backdrop. In the case of Romeo and Juliet and Jane Eyre, kids learn to count by adding up the number of bridges in Verona or candles in Mr. Rochester’s attic. Although the story is somewhat lacking in these books, I’m not sure that’s necessarily a bad thing. I mean, how would I explain locking up your wife in the attic or a double suicide to a two year old?

3. World Snacks, by Amy Wilson Sanger:

I love food and I love books so I double love this series (I’m pretty sure the math checks out on that). We have Yum Yum Dim Sum and First Book of Sushi, both of which introduce babies to dishes from each cuisine in short rhymes. I should also point out that the dim sum edition includes a description of common dim sum foods, for culturally sheltered parents like myself.

4. Little Books, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I think puns are the bomb dot com. Therefore, I obviously endorse a series of books full of phrases like “they all lived happ-owly ever after” and “pea-ple.” In all three books, kids (a pea, a pig and an owl – sounds like the lead up to a bad joke) are forced by their parents to do a less than desireable task. The twist is that these chores are things human kids would enjoy. For example, Little Pea has to eat all of his candy if he wants his spinach. I’m sure this is all over Isla’s head but I think if I read it aloud enough Scott might learn something.