Transitioning from board books to regular picture books with a baby or toddler can be tricky! Here’s are six tips for helping them get used to bigger books and longer stories, plus avoid all the paper books getting torn to shreds by an over-eager tiny reader.
Aren’t board books so comforting?
They’re reasonably indestructible (I mean, anyone who has an actual child knows that there is nothing on earth that’s completely indestructible, but a board book won’t tear if you look at it wrong), they’re short and they’re perfect for a quick read before nap and bedtime.
But at some point, you start eyeing the paper picture books and wondering when it’s time to make the jump.
Is your child ready for a longer story and a bigger book that doesn’t fit in their chubby hands?
And can you do it without spending your child’s college fund on library fines when you bring back books torn to shreds?
Here are six of my best tips for making the transition from board books to picture books with all the pages and your sanity in tact:
Start with SHORT picture books.
Horton Hears a Who is probably not your best bet – a book that long is just going to be really tricky if you’re used to 10 page board books. Pick some simple concept books and stories that aren’t too wordy and work your way up to longer picture books.
Lap sitting might not be your best bet.
It’s likely you often read to your child with them on your lap or sitting right next to you, which is great for snuggling and less great for protecting paper pages. Get them used to bigger books by reading to them while they’re strapped in a high chair or stroller or lying together on the ground, holding the book above your head.
Try picture book versions of board books they already know.
If your child has board books they already love, try out the picture book versions (like Goodnight Moon or We’re Going on a Bear Hunt), so they can get used to a new format without having to adjust to a new storyline too.
Hold their hand
Babies are like little ninjas – one second they’re sitting peacefully on your lap and two seconds later, that $25 library book has half a page sitting next to you on the sofa. Try gently holding your baby’s hand in yours and using it to point out things on the page. Not only does it help them focus on specific words or art, but it also makes it harder for them to reach out and rip the page.
Keep the board books in rotation
I never recommend making a hard jump between any level of books, whether that’s board books to picture books or picture books to chapter books or any other advancement. Keep alternating picture books with old board book favorites and you can both enjoy more diversity in your reading.
Keep calm and read on
It’s so hard not to be annoyed when a brand-new book gets ripped by an overly-excited baby or toddler, but remember that your baby is trying to figure out what the heck is going on and getting a feel for a new type of book. Keep trying every day or two and you’ll both figure it out. And the goal is to have a child who loves books, not a child who lives in fear of ripping a page.
Any other tips for making the transition? I’d love to hear!
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Photos by Christie Knight Photography