As our younger daughter approaches 10 months we are seeing the world appear before her eyes. As with our elder daughter when she was a similar age, books are increasingly an important part of her life. There are many wonderful board books designed for the littlest of fingers and thumbs, and resistant to newly emerged tiny chompers. Below is a selection of our current favourites.
A Case of Good Manners Published by Sweet Cherry
This is a wonderful collection of 12 bite sized books about manners, brilliantly packaged inside a robust, illustrated, child-size carry case. It's contents are entertaining for babies and older toddlers alike - our 9 month old and three and a half year old daughters recently spent a very happy afternoon together, interacting with the Case and all it has to offer.
Delightful illustrations depict scenes of adult and child animals demonstrating the worth and importance of 'good manners', 'good habits' and 'getting on with others' (with each book addressing a single theme such as kindness, sharing, taking turns and listening). The books also work well as a group in a literal way, with their back covers each forming part of a 12 piece jigsaw.
I Wish I Were a Pirate/I Wish I Were a Princess by Smriti Prasadam-Halls (words) and Sarah Ward (illustrations), published by Bloomsbury
This perfect pair has been hugely enjoyed by both our daughters. The books are both highly tactile, with strongly made interactive elements on every page, including their front covers (from a rotating ship's wheel, to pirates that you can tip into the sea with the flick of a finger as they walk the plank, to a princess who gives a royal wave and changes outfits at the turn of a dial).
A gentle rhyme accompanies highly appealing illustrations depicting children engaged and happy in make believe play as pirates and princesses respectively, with boys AND girls represented in each book. Our elder daughter also enjoyed reenacting many of the books' lively scenes.
Baby Gym series published by Child's Play
This charming and engaging quartet of board books is perfect for hands on play with your baby, with each book designed to suit a variety of times in a baby's day, including active play of fun and games, and soothing time to encourage sleep.
Each book contains five spreads featuring a baby enjoying a different movement or interaction with their adult. The pictures are accompanied by lyrics, songs and helpful tips and information on how to support a baby's visual, aural and physical development.
Bounce & Jiggle and Wiggle & Move contain between them 10 rhymes, songs and poems matched with instructions on how to enjoy physical interaction and rhythm. Touch & Tickle has 5 great ideas based on baby massage techniques, while Calm & Soothe focuses on touch aimed at encouraging relaxation, good digestion and wind down.
A lovely aspect of the illustrations is the diversity of babies (all kitted out in adorable baby grows) and their adults, including scenes of twins. Our elder daughter loves to listen to the songs, and regularly joins in while we engage our baby in the likes of "this is the way the ladies ride", "criss-cross apple sauce" and "hush little baby".
There's an Owl in My Towel by Julia Donaldson (words) and Rebecca Cobb (illustration), published by Macmillan Kids
Our fourth ever review, back in June 2015, was of the wondrous The Paper Dolls, which remains one of our favourite picturebooks. Here the author/illustrator dream team of Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb are reunited in a new boardbook for younger readers.
Julia Donaldson's trademark light-hearted rhymes, here describing amusing situations that make us and our elder daughter smile (including 'a mole in my bowl', 'a hare in my chair' and 'a lamb in my pram') are perfectly matched by Rebecca Cobb's beautiful illustrations of small children faced by these animal antics.
Interaction comes from the clever use of flaps to reveal a gentle riposte to the animals' behaviour (such as 'fly away owl', 'run away mole' and 'skip away lamb'), and a memorable song version of the book available to watch here, performed by Julia herself.
A final scene of cosy sleep, and the comfort of a teddy in bed, draws the book to a soothing close.