When I tell people I’m in library school, I get two pretty standard reactions that go something like this: “Oh, so you’re taking Dewey Decimal 101?” Or “Can you recommend any good books for my niece? She just turned 1.” The first response is usually met with some form of sarcasm followed by a semi-rehearsed speech on why librarians need a special degree and the details on what I’m learning. As for the serious question–the one about books–I usually recommend that people stick to books made of cloth or cardboard that focus more on illustrations than text.
A few weeks ago I was hanging out with some good friends when their 16-month old brought me a prime example of what a baby should be reading: Hug by Jez Alborough. Hug is about a “baby” monkey, Bobo, who observes other “baby” animals being hugged by their own kind. Bobo becomes sad that there is no one to hug. Finally, Bobo’s mother appears with open arms. After being hugged by his mother, Bobo exchanges hugs with other animals.
Hug is a great book for babies and toddlers. The text is basically limited to one word leaving room for readers to focus on the pictures. The illustrations, while not realistic, are vivid and well drawn. We see a range of Bobo’s emotions as he searches for someone to hug. Picture books aid in building emotional and visual literacy. The range of feelings put on display for the reader in Hug make it a great addition to any board book collection.