The publisher of Begin Smart Books, Harriet M. Ziefert, believes, like many experts, that babies are never too young to be read to. So she created a developmental book program for Babies and Toddlers. Sure, there are many "baby books" on the market and I have a bunch of soft books for my baby. My daughter is a toddler and she has tons of books as well. So when I received the Begin Smart books in the mail, I was curious to see if they would stand out in the bookcase.
There are 4 levels to this series of books. The first is newborn to six months. I received the Night-Night, Baby cloth book with flaps. My infant son seemed very attentive when I turned the pages of this book and offered it up to his hands. The fabric is soft and the flaps have a smooth, bright satin trim that caught his eye. My daughter, age 2, took possession of this book not long after I showed it to my son. It took a few days to get it back from her which showed me that although it was created for infants, toddlers can also enjoy storytime with this series.
I waited to review the next level until my son was within the age range. For six to twelve months, we have Yummy, Yummy, a board book with teether. What a cute concept! Right away, my son was intriqued with the bright green pretzel nestled in the cover. My daughter wanted to stake claim to it and another struggle to reclaim it for my son. Once I did, he was all smiles while playing with the book. I love how this book caters to my son's new found interest in putting things in his mouth. Instead of the book becoming a chew toy, it came with one! While he explored the texture and taste of the teether, I was able to read the book and turn the pages while keeping his attention.
Now my son is 12 months old, but my daughter snuck out of my office with the next book. It is for 12-18 month olds. Moo! Moo! What are You? is a touch and feel board book with peek-a-boo holes. I thought it was gone for good for a few days until one day when I had placed my son on the floor to play in their bedroom, I overheard my daughter on the monitor talking to him and making mooing sounds. I snuck back to the room and peeked in to see her sitting in her little red desk chair, book in hand, as she "read" to him and then turned the book to show him. I couldn't help but smile at the sight of my daughter reading to her baby brother like her teacher does in preschool. Sure, she made up the words but he was very interested and giggled at her story. When she turned the pages, she would feel the different textures built into the book to mimic textures of objects and animals in the story. When she was done, she would put my son's hand on the book and let him feel as well, explaining to him what it was. He laughed some more and tried to snag the book away each time, but she continued on without missing a page. There's no doubt that a book that can keep both children happy and entertained deserves a rave review.
The final level of this series is for 18 months to 2 years. The book I have from this series is Look at Me! Just today I found my 12 year old niece reading this book to my daughter. Although my daughter is older than the age level for this book and my son is still just under the age, they both enjoy the book in their own way. I have read this book to my son while peeking through the eye holes to create different animals. The handles make it easy to hold the book up to your face while creating a mask to entertain your child. My son loves the easy to grasp handle as well and can carry the book himself. My daughter loves the big animal faces that create the masks and the fun of playing an animal character. She too will pretend to be the animals in the book, along with her own sounds as she becomes the animal on the page. My son gets the benefit of her pretend play as he learns the animal sounds from his sister and tries to imitate her. I am sure this book will continue to be a favorite for both of them for quite awhile.
While most children love books in general, I can definately see why this series stands out against the other books in our collection. While being bright and colorful, they are also written to coincide with a child's motor and cognitive skills at each age level. And I agree, it is never too early to read to your baby.