Baby books aren't as simple as you think

Of the many attributes that can be said of baby books, perhaps one of the most important is the wide variety of ways one can read that book to a young child. A book for this age group typically has a very simple story with many colorful illustrations. This allows the young reader to absorb the story and be further engaged with the illustrations. And although many baby books have a story that stands on its own, the adult can embellish on the existing text to substantially add learning and enjoyment.

For example, once you read a page, don't just flip to the next. Take a look at the illustrations. What can you talk about or ask your child if they see? Perhaps it's a red ball. Maybe there's an illustration of a puppy. Where is the puppy? What color is it? Maybe there are ladybugs; ask how many ladybugs? What are the ladybugs doing?

If your child isn't old enough to talk, you can still ask the questions. Some children will be old enough to point to the answer. Those who aren't able can still benefit by you providing the answers to your own questions.

Of course, if you get too carried away with your Q's and A's, you might lose your child all together. But if you're in tune to your child's attention span, you'll know just when to turn the page while having maximized as much learning as possible from that "simple" little book.

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

"Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs!" written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton, Workman Publishing, 22 pages, board book

Read yourself: birth-age 3. Read yourself: age 5 and older.

Talented author/illustrator Sandra Boynton never seems to run out of ideas when it comes to books for our youngest readers and this selection is no exception.

Comical renditions of dinosaurs embellish every page of this book of opposites. Some dinosaurs are good while others are bad. Some are big dinosaurs and some are small. Some dinosaurs are weak, some are strong and so on. In every comparison of opposites, zany characters are found doing zany things - Sandra Boynton's engaging, fun trademark.

Librarian's Choice

Library: Dayton Valley Branch Library, 321 Old Dayton Valley Road, Dayton

Branch Manager: Theresa Kenneston

Choices this week: "The Seven Silly Eaters" by Mary Ann Hoberman; "We're Going on a Picnic!" by Pat Hutchins; "Why Do Kittens Purr?" by Marion Dane Bauer

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

"Monday the Bullfrog" written and illustrated by Matthew Van Fleet, Simon & Schuster, 2006, 18 pages, $16.95 board book with soft cloth toy puppet frog

Read aloud: birthÐage 3. Read yourself: age 5Ð6.

Monday the Bullfrog was hungry all the time. On Sunday he ate a purple butterfly and on Monday he ate a white mouse. During the next three days Monday the Bullfrog ate something red, then green, then yellow.

"Friday was shiny and blue. Saturday he wanted something sweet, so Monday the Bullfrog ate you!"

Told in rhyme, this awesome puppet frog book is packed with learning and lots of fun, making it a great way to introduce the joy of reading to the tiniest readers in your life.

"Duckie's Splash" written and illustrated by Frances Barry, Candlewick, 2006, $5.99 board book

Read aloud: age 1Ð3. Read yourself: age 6Ð7.

A book of "opposites" with a different twist, young readers will delight in following Duckie on every page, for when Duckie does something, one of her friends does the opposite.

When Duckie steps on the rock, her friend Turtle steps off. When Duckie swims over the water, her friend Otter swims under the water. More friends join in the fun, but the craziest part is yet to come. The last two pages fold-out to a pop-up surprise: when Duckie jumps into the water full of fish, what do you think the fish do? Yep - the fish jump out!

An entertaining, simple story that's loaded with fun illustrations, this selection is guaranteed to amuse toddlers while teaching them something at the same time.

• Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children's literature. She can be e-mailed at


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