Reading to babies is extremely important, and I have been told that many times and by many people. Doing a storytime for babies got me wondering why board books in particular were good for babies. Here are some of the reasons I found while scouring the internet:
Board books are much sturdier than picture books. Chewing the pages, playing with the books, throwing the books, etc. are how babies initially interact with them. They learn by tasting and touching. Normal picture books would not hold up to this type of love. It also helps that they are substantially cheaper than hardcover picture books.
The simplicity of board books helps to develop listening and visual skills that lead to reading later on. They are typically made to introduce a concept like shapes, colors, or animals. The concepts are introduced at a level appropriate for ages 0-3. This allows children to learn and to develop a love for reading without getting frustrated at the length or complexity of the book.
Board books have larger pictures. Babies do not have fully developed vision and having large and simpler pictures is helpful to them. Pointing at these pictures and naming what the illustration is also teaches babies that objects have names.
In terms of what makes a good board book, the Horn Book has a fantastic article written on the subject. Ericka Chilcoat also has an article on the ALSC blog about why we should all read more more of them.
Do you use board books at your baby storytimes? What is your favorite?