Sunday, January 30, 2011

So different, so alike, babies everywhere!

Turning a page of a board book is a great activity for babies, anticipating another colorful picture appearing. But we know, they are grabbing, holding, sucking, and often chewing it rather than reading it. They certainly do not comprehend what mommy reads, but hear mommy’s voice that always excites and comforts them. The simple, repetitive, rhythmic words ring in their ears, while colorful pictures hold their short attention. For babies, board books are one of the first navigators into the world they don’t yet know.

One of the much-read children’s book blogs, Jennifer Robinson’s Book Page recently posted a great review on two board books from our Babies Everywhere series, Families and Carry Me, saying “these two books are an excellent addition to our library of board books... and a great addition to, say, a basket of books delivered to a new baby.”

In Families, each left hand page shows photographs of multi-ethnic babies and adults walking, playing, sharing food, swimming, and cuddling, and on each facing page are charming photographs of animals doing the same. “Like Mommy cuddles me, a baby in a picture hugged tightly in his mommy’s arms, so is a baby chimp; all mommies are bigger than their babies as my mommy is bigger than me,” your baby might think.

In my native culture (Korea), people carry their babies on their back (mostly mothers/grandmothers) in a wadded quilt baby wrapper. So when I saw women carry their babies on their side in Indonesia (mostly without support of any extra fabric), it was a bit of surprise, and, say, a sort of enlightenment. Carry Me is a wonderful portrait of cultures across the globe with vibrant photographs of babies carried in unique ways. Easy to flip the page for very young children. The simple and repetitive text will slide into their ears.

In addition to sucking, grabbing and chewing, with these books, babies will slowly build awareness of cultural diversity and similarity in human and animal activities. They are a National Geographic for babies.

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