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date: 21 March 2019

baby books

The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature

Daniel Hahn

baby books 

Books for babies and toddlers have grown into a huge market in recent decades, supported both by powerful opportunistic marketing possibilities and, less crassly, by a growing understanding of the importance of books to children’s development, even that of the very youngest babies. They come in various formats for different settings—board books, waterproof books for the bath, books with clips to attach to strollers, and so on—each object designed robustly to withstand chewing, drooling, throwing, etc. Independent exploration of the book is often encouraged, with design features such as textures that are interesting to the touch (Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells’s That’s Not My…series—forty-one titles and counting, beginning with That’s Not My Puppy in 1999—is a particularly popular recent example), moving parts (lift-the-flap books such as Dear Zoo—toddlers’ fine motor skill development can also be supported by use of such things), or some kind of noise-making function. These books are often repurposed versions of things already existing as popular picture books, some of which may be made available in three or four different formats. Many books for babies and toddlers, including picture books, teach concepts and words, and encourage understanding of narrative patterns and habits of reading and sharing books, as well as providing the obvious opportunities for adult and child to bond through the experience.