Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mommy Librarian's Story Time Secret #6: Board Books Are (Usually) Too Small For Story Time!

First I was a children’s librarian. Then I became a mom. As I attend story times with my daughter, I have started to make a list of hints that might be helpful to story time performers and/or story time attendees. Today’s hint is for librarians who perform baby story times: Your board books are too small!

Board books are an essential part of a library’s collection and of a baby’s personal library. They are durable, chewable, and easy for little fingers to grab and hold. However, most board books, unless they are oversized, are inappropriate for story time.

Here are the misconceptions I used to have about board books, and why they turned out to be false:
  • “My story time room is small enough that even the people in the back can see small books.”
    Now that I have been that mom in the back of the room, I can tell you that I can see the illustrations, but most of the time I can’t make out what they are. And if I can’t, babies, the very youngest of whom can't see more than 10 inches away from their faces, definitely can't.
  • “Babies don’t look at the pictures so it doesn’t matter how big they are.”
    My daughter has looked at pictures in books from about 6 weeks old. If the book is large enough and the baby is close enough, he or she will absolutely look at the pictures. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it can never happen if the books in use at story time are consistently too small.
  • “Board books are the only baby-friendly books, so I am stuck with them, even if they’re small.”
    When I first started doing baby story time, I had no real concrete idea of which books worked best for babies. After a lot of trial and error, I realized that some board books are just longer picture books printed on cardboard in order to make more sales, and that likewise some picture books have just the right balance of text to illustration to be a perfect choice for baby story time.
Some libraries have a story time collection which includes enough copies of certain board books that every baby/caregiver pairing can have one to look at. In that situation, the problems mentioned above are resolved, and board books can be a great addition to story time. I have never worked in a library where this model of story time was consistently possible, however, and I imagine many other libraries don’t have the budget to support such a thing for every program.

1 comment :

  1. I completely agree and cringe when I see board books used as story time books!! We are fortunate enough to have many sets of board books and I love to see caregivers and child interact with them. Thanks for your post!


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