Where does the naming of things begin for each of us? When does the bright fluorescent skin of a lemon become the colour yellow and pillows of white in the sky become clouds? Where do we begin to understand that the lemon is a fruit that grows on a tree and that the tree has roots that are fed by the raindrops that tumble out of those clouds? Often these connections between words, the objects they represent and the world that holds them are formed thanks to books. That’s why it’s never too early to begin sharing books with a baby. Many parents start with sturdy board books that fit easily in a child’s small hand. But there are so many out there that choosing can be difficult. Here are a few selections that stand out (all are recommended for little ones ages newborn to 3).
P. Bear’s New Years Party (Tricycle Press, $8.95) by Paul Owen Lewis
Time is a complex idea and hard to convey to little ones whose memories are short (and who truly do live in the present). In this stylish book, readers meet P. Bear, a sophisticated gentleman bear with a top hat who invites a cast of debonair animal friends for the countdown to New Years. Penguins, zebras, pandas, skunks and more turn up at his door, each group arriving at a different time. The number of animals in the group also represents the number that the arrow points to on the clock and kids will be amused at counting the ever-growing groups of animals who are making their appearance for the party. All the invited animals, including P. Bear himself, are black and white, but there are lovely dashes of red (balloons, for example) that attract the reader’s eye.
The Feelings Book (Little Brown, $9.99) by Todd Parr
Author Todd Parr uses a variety of characters and faces to demonstrate the wide array of feelings that can exist in one person. The book allows children to make sense of the emotions they are experiencing by putting feelings into words. Whether they feel like dancing or are caught in a moment of loneliness, children will see that the rollercoaster of sensations we have are a natural and simple expression of our moods. And by having the words to explain their feelings, children will be better equipped to share them with their parents and those around them.
Andy Warhol’s Colors and Counting with Wayne Thiebaud (Chronicle Books, $8.95 each) by Susan Goldman Rubin
Board books often focus on basic concepts such as colours and counting but oftentimes the presentation can fall flat. This is not the case for Andy Warhol’s Colors and Counting with Wayne Thiebaud. The author uses the artwork of two modern artists to teach little ones not only to identify colours and to count, but also how to look at art and see more than just the images on the canvas. Warhol’s paintings convey the power and beauty of colours in our world, while Thiebaud’s soft nostalgic images of soda counter sundaes and Sunday dinner pies will appeal to a child’s budding sweet tooth. And both books show children the startling, impish ways two contemporary artists view the world.
Yummy Yucky (photo above – Candlewick Books, $9.00) by Leslie Patricelli
As children mature, they often become fascinated by the idea that most words or objects have an equivalent opposite. In Yummy Yucky, author Leslie Patricelli invites her young readers to learn about opposites by taking absurd and ridiculous examples that will have kiddies laughing but also understanding that for every new word they learn there is one to describe the other side of that feeling, characteristic or quality. A rambunctious bald-headed Caillou-like baby acts out each opposite with energy and naughtiness that will keep little readers engaged from one page to the next.