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Board but far from Boring

April 10, 2011

Fair warning, this isn’t a photography post…

We devour books at out house. Don’t try to talk to either M nor I when we have a good book on the go, and forget non-essential tasks, or evening conversation. The boys seem to be following suit, and now that J is reading (oh joy of parenting joys!) it can only get worse… πŸ˜‰

Our dear friends just had a beautiful baby boy, who is fighting some pretty serious health issues. His whole week-long life so far has been in the NICU, and the whole parenting life of his Mommy and Mummy is defined by riding that roller coaster too. He is a perfect little man, as they all are, with what ever they bring, and fighting hard. The prognosis is good. All this to say that one of the things that makes not being able to hold your newborn very much even slightly bearable for our friends, and for their son is that they all find comfort in reading to him. A lot. And as they look for new material I am reflecting on the books that we shared with our little ones when they were so small.

Board books are a much maligned form of literature, but our guys had firm favourites, and still look fondly on them, and, with the eldest now able to revisit them as a reader they take on a second life.

So, in no particular order were some of our favourites. Some are truly works of superb literature, while one or two I admit made me groan far before the 100th reading… But they have all played a role in an emerging love of word, image and page.

So here they are. These are just a few of our early favorites, and are just the board book – there are many, many longer books that we have loved, but that’s another post. I’d love to hear yours πŸ™‚

Goodnight gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Simple, loving not condescending, funny (especially if you use voices..) and it has friendly animals. What more could you want? A carefully placed red balloon in every picture? Ok. That too.



Hug by Jez Alborough

Another of few words – just one actually (well, actually three, but two are only on the last page..). Your little one will be reading it before you know. This book is about community coming together to care for a child. It’s about feeling very sad, and then feeling very happy, all of which happens to most children a hundred times a day.Β  And its got monkeys.


Olivia by Ian Falconer.

Although we read this Olivia a lot (the first book, way before the TV series that I have never seen) I have to admit that the choosing of this one may be a little bit more about me than the boys. There is REAL art, ballet, and honest to goodness child like sass in this one. Olivia is full of really well developed and true to life character and this book with its black, white and red art puts children real lives centre stage with no hint of patronization, with a nod to long-suffering parents.



Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw and Margot Apple

I should preface this by saying this book is our family’s all time favourite. Both children can recite it by memory (as can the parents!) Its beautifully written in rhyme, and just plain goofy and funny, aided by illustrations which really breathe life into those lovable, irresponsible sheep. I mean.. really… ‘…sheep shout, sheep cheer! Oh dear. Driver sheep forgets to steer. Jeep inΒ  heap. Sheep weep. Sheep sweep the heap. Jeep for sale. Cheep’ (didn’t even need to look that one up..)



Dig, dig, digging – Margaret Mayo

Another one that my then 3-year-old could recite by memory (I’ll save you the home movie..) This rhyming book of all things transport related is illustrated beautifully and has a nice wind down to bedtime final verse. You *could* of course read the words and all would be great, but I have never been able to do anything but sing them to the tune of ‘Daddies taking us to the Zoo tomorrow’…. Dare you not to… “Diggers are good a dig, dig, digging…scoopng up the earth and lifting and tipping…they make huge holes with their dig, dig, digging…. They can work all day.”


One fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish – the board book. by Dr Seuss

You all know the story so I won’t go into the details ( ‘don’t ask me why, go ask your Mother..’) and while I am not usually a fan of condensing and abridging books this board version of the classic retains the spirit of all things Seuss, and is an accessible length for little ones.



I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy

Sweet, sweet, sweet. Great bold illustrations and you get to smooch and tickle your little one in the process of reading. Win all round πŸ™‚




This is my Hair by Todd Parr

Again, forget the kids TV trashing of Todd Parr books. This one is his signature colour filled, quirky, and with a strong message of ‘be yourself and you too will be funky and bright’

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