• Rebecca Lewis-Oakes

Dear Mindy Kaling: Great Board Books for You!

Hi, Mindy. Long-time fan, new Instagram follower here, who was THRILLED to see your recent Instagram Story on the gorgeous board books you love to read with your daughter. You've made some great choices! You also point out the key elements of board book success:

1. Chewable - babies and toddlers love books so much, they just want to eat them. Bonus parent point: fewer paper cuts.

2. Short - attention spans of babies, toddlers and tired parents are the perfect fit for these bite-size books.

You asked for some recommendations, so, as a former in-house writer/editor and current reader-out-er of this genre, here are my top picks. (I hope they're available in the US. If not, come over, we can go to Waterstones together!)

All About Spot

Shaped like everyone's favourite puppy himself, Spot. Simple and sweet rhyming text, engaging bright colours and doubles up as a dog-shaped toy.

Ten Little Princesses

This is one of a fabulous series of 'Ten Little...' books which introduce counting and rhyme alongside awesome sound effect words and a cracking adventure - there are also Pirates, Monsters, Robots and more. Little readers will soon be joining in with the BOOMs, CRASHes, OUCHes and more by themselves. Plus, this Princess story is subversive and kick-ass as (spoiler alert) the princesses save themselves.

Busy Bookshop

Another favourite in a completely brilliant series, this makes a simple and everyday experience come alive with sturdy (hard to chew/break off!) and surprising novelty push/pull/spin/slides on each spread. And there are plenty of things to spot in each scene, too, which keeps interest alive for readers (big and small) after the first few (thousand) readings. Those geniuses over at Campbell Books are at the top of their board book game right here.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Little Learning Library

The gold-standard of the 'little library' format - doubles up as a sorting toy (take them all out, put them back in... throw the books around, stack them... repeat...). Aside from the stunning Eric Carle artwork, and pared-back design which allow little readers to focus on one thing at a time, the books are beautifully edited. The Colours book in particular stands out in the market - I know as an editor how tempting it is to include something not intrinsically blue, for example, just to fill the 'blue' page, but Eric's standards are much higher than that, and it pays off!

Peck Peck Peck

A truly joyful use of the hole punch! It is so pleasing and surprising when a novelty element is woven so perfectly into the story, this cheeky little woodpecker really stands out on the bookshelf, and the text is a treat to read aloud. And then of course you should move on to Lucy Cousins' entire Maisy back catalogue.

That's Not My... series

Do you have 'That's Not My...' in the US, Mindy? I think you'd love it. The series is almost endless and makes a great gift - there's one for every baby: trains, Santa, teddies, lion, planes, pretty much everything! There's a generous-sized touch-and-feel element on every page and what's particularly clever is that the same 'tactile' has the same descriptive word across the series (I wondered why one train wheel was 'squashy' until we got a 'squashy' teddy bear paw with the same padded patch!).

Find Spot series

OK I'm slightly biased here because I helped to originate this new series in the Spot canon, but these board books have nice big lift-the-flaps for little hands to tear off as cheeky Spot has adventures on fun yet familiar days out.

I Love You to the Moon and Back

Not that I want to make you cry, Mindy, but... you said you liked books that reinforce a 'go to sleep' message and this one is adorable. The little bears talk about their day, splash in the bath and end with a lovely bedtime cuddle. I'm welling up just thinking about it, sorry.

You'll see the copies in my personal library are all well-chewed (also that I probably should have hoovered my carpet before taking photos...) and they're very well-loved. I hope you find more books to share with your daughter, and please keep sharing them with us, too.

I know that reading so many board books, and so many of them so many times, with a child has opened my editing brain to what truly makes a good board book. So this is a slightly more personal 'How to Make Books' blog post, but that's publishing: you bring your whole self to work and all your experiences into every book you make.

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