Literacy at Home: Board Books

There are five different practices that help build early literacy skills, and today we’re going to talk about one of our favourite tools for building reading skills (and life skills) with your babies: board books!

If you have a baby or toddler, you’re probably pretty familiar with this small sturdy publishing format. After all, board books are designed for babies and toddlers. But did you know that there are reasons to use board books with your little ones other than their durability?

1. Simple, High Contrast Illustrations

The illustrations and contents of many board books are designed with the development of your child in mind. You’ve probably seen board books which have really simple illustrations which use only a few bright colours per page and a thick black outline between colours. Some of them might even be in just black and white. This is because while babies’ eyes are still developing, they see high contrast images more clearly. Books with simple, high contrast illustrations are easier for babies to see – and more enjoyable for them to look at! Try out one of these with your baby and see how entranced they become with the pictures.

Here are a few examples we love from our collection:

2. Baby Faces

One of the things that babies are learning while their eyes develop is what faces look like! They learn to distinguish between different facial features, and what it means when we move these features in different ways. If we widen our eyes we might be surprised or excited. If we smile we might be happy. If we frown we might be mad. All of these expressions are new to babies, and they have to learn how to identify them on many different faces. For this reason, books with lots of pictures of faces in them are not only fascinating for babies to look at, but they also help their development!

Here are just a few examples of some of our board books with baby faces:

3. Hugs, Kisses, Tickles

Since so many board books are designed for parents with babies, many of them build in great opportunities to have loving interactions with your child – things like hugging, kissing, tickling, and telling them you love them. While you probably already do these things every day, reading books that include them makes reading time a really positive time for both you and your child. This can help when they need to start learning to read on their own because they’ll already know that reading books brings good experiences! It’s never too early to plant the seed for a love of reading.

Here are some of our favourite loving books for babies:

4. Learning How Books Work

Learning how books work is actually an important literacy skill. The fact that pictures and words can relate to each other, that spoken words can be stored as retrievable information through written words, that books have pages and they turn, these are all things that make up the understanding of “how books work”. Babies learn in lots of ways, and some of these ways are by touching and tasting things. The durability of board books becomes an asset here, because while it might look like your baby is just chewing on a book or turning the pages upside down, your baby is actually learning all of these important things about how books work! And eventually they will learn how the process of reading a book works – by watching you hold books and turn the pages as you read to them.

If you still need some books suggestions, here are three more we love:

You can find all of these and more through our website at tnrl.ca. We have over 1800 board books in our collection, which means if you read a different board book to your child every day, you could read for almost five years without repeating a book!