By Alena Rivers
The Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, advocates for early childhood literacy in many ways, including the Babies Need Words Every Day project and the Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) program, which it administers in partnership with the Public Library Association. ECRR stresses the importance of five practices that support early literacy skills in babies and toddlers: talking, singing, reading, writing and playing. Babies and toddlers can learn immense amounts of vocabulary and communication skills when parents and caregivers participate in these activities with their prereaders.
With their sturdy format and exciting visual content, board books support the practice of reading to very young children. Board books offer a wonderful introduction to building a habit of reading together while providing babies and toddlers with a valuable learning experience. Many board books are concept books, or books that present information on ideas such as numbers, colors, shapes or the alphabet. Concepts can be introduced through a variety of subject matter, from the familiar to the novel. The board books below offer three different ways to introduce the concepts of numbers and colors by way of food, animals and trains.
Edible Colors by Jennifer Vogel Bass (Roaring Brook, 2016)
Edible Numbers by Jennifer Vogel Bass (Roaring Brook, 2016)
Jennifer Vogel Bass’ board books provide vibrant, colorful photos of an unusual collection of fruits and vegetables. Babies and adults can find a visual explosion of colorful foods, some common and some unknown varieties, to explore while learning numbers and colors.
Edible Colors features a plethora of fruits and vegetables and provides them in a rainbow of colors. Well-known fruit and vegetable color combinations, such as orange carrots and green cucumbers are followed by a generous selection of additional fruits and vegetables of the same color.
Edible Numbers invites young children to explore numbers from 1-12 while counting the variations on more common fruits and vegetables. A two-page spread at the end of the board book provides a comprehensive view of the numbers and foods used throughout the book.
Picture This: Colors by Marie Vendittelli (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)
Picture This: Numbers by Judith Nouvion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)
The Picture This board books series explores homes, shapes, colors and numbers through images from nature. The full-color photos are close-up, textured depictions of animals in their natural habitats that babies and toddlers will find compelling.
Picture This: Colors features 14 vibrant photos of animals exhibiting each featured color. The text identifies the animal and its environment in a simple, repeating and predictable pattern.
Picture This: Numbers groups animals by numbers 1-10. Each animal featured is identified with a brief one or two sentence fact about the animal.
Steam Train, Dream Train 1-2-3 by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illus. by Tom Lichtenheld (Chronicle, 2016)
Steam Train, Dream Train Colors by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illus. by Tom Lichtenheld (Chronicle, 2016)
These board books were inspired by the Steam Train, Dream Train picture book. The board book counterparts are illustrated with oil pastel drawings that identify the different types of train cars. Rhyming text offers a predictive pattern of language babies and toddlers will enjoy hearing.
Steam Train, Dream Train 1-2-3 uses half of each two-page spread to identify a number from 1-10 along with rhyming text describing the corresponding scenes of animals interacting with objects such as cars and balloons on each train car.
Steam Train, Dream Train Colors features a train in one of 10 different colors accompanied by rhyming text describing the train car and its animal passengers.