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  • Kelsey Marie Paff

5 Board Books from Blue Manatee Press!


Now, we all know how excited I get about board books -- and I've seen a lot of them since starting Where the Board Books Are in 2016 -- but these five board books are an exceptional bunch! They're exceptional because the stories in each of these board books made me feel like these authors, along with Blue Manatee Press, really get childhood. Sometimes it can feel like the board book market focuses a bit too much on first concept books -- letters, shapes, numbers, opposites -- that we forget to just give little ones a memorable story. Little Sleepy Solar System is a first-concept book, which is still a very important board book category, but I can never pass up good stories. Let's start with Make.

Looking back on my early childhood it was quite simple. I went to preschool a couple days a week (half days), I always had a pile of books nearby, I played with other kids in my neighborhood (which included walking by myself to their houses), I spent a lot of time outside, I made a lot of forts and setups inside, I gardened with my mom, I rode my bike in the driveway on a daily basis, I baked with my mom or helped cut vegetables for dinner, and I occasionally watched something on PBS Kids for an hour, maybe once or twice a week. Today, children's lives seem busier. I make a point to read to my children everyday, but there are evenings where it seems rushed, or when I'm completely exhausted. School days seem longer, commutes seem longer, work hours seem longer, children seem to "need" electronics or to be entertained. The daily grind can be exhausting! And then you open a book like Make, and it literally makes you stop to see just how beautiful a slower-paced, free-spirited childhood is.


As part of Blue Manatee Press's Unplugged series, Make is one in a series of eleven, which can be purchased from Blue Manatee Press's website. A book that encourages children to make things by using their imagination and natural creativity, Make is written by pediatrician, Dr. John Hutton, who knows just how important those early years are to a child's development. While I'm not against allowing a child under 5 to have a little bit of screen time, I think that once screens are introduced it's very hard to wean a child off of them. I also remember reading a great quote once -- I don't remember who it was from -- that said: "A child will never remember their best day of watching." That quote has always stuck with me. Go make!


Another board book in the Unplugged series is Play.

Play, like Make, is meant to highlight the benefits of allowing a little one to follow his or her interests. As Maria Montessori said: "Play is the work of a child." From playing with boxes, banging on pots and pans, stacking blocks, gardening, going to the park, Play emphasizes to little ones that a day spent playing is a day that provides a sense of purpose, achievement, and fulfillment.


I Miss Your Sunny Smile is another board book in the stack sent to me by Blue Manatee Press and I absolutely love this one!

Written by Deb Adams with illustrations by Anne Zimanski, I Miss Your Sunny Smile is a board book that all parents and care givers can relate to. In the story a little boy is sad. To cheer him up, he and his mom go looking for his smile. What a creative board book idea! Here's an excerpt: "Cheer up my little sweet pea. I miss your sunny smile. How'd you lose it? Where'd it go? Let's go searching for a while." Is it under the sofa? Is it in the cookie jar? I kept smiling as I turned the pages. It's so clever and beautifully written with rhyming text. Finally, the little boy finds his smile when he discovers his teddy bear. A beautiful book that's helpful not only for those frown-filled toddler moments, but for moments when you want to show children that it's ok to be upset, and that you will be there modeling patience for them.


Gritty Kitty is another fun one.

A board book that -- as you already guessed -- introduces children to the concept of grit, Gritty Kitty definitely has a lot of grit to go around. Here's an excerpt: "Gritty Kitty, stumble and fall, stand back up, no problem at all. Build a tower, blocks tumble down. Keep trying, look: a perfect town!"


Illustrated again by Christina Brown, Gritty Kitty has a lot of personality, and hopefully the concept of grit will be helpful for young children as they navigate so many ups and downs throughout their day.


Last on the list is Little Sleepy Solar System by Dr. John Hutton with illustrations by Doug Cenko.

A book that ties in numbers and colors, as well as the concept of distance, Little Sleepy Solar System is a fun way to introduce the planets to children while also introducing other concepts like numbers and colors.

Thank you again to Blue Manatee Press for sharing these with me!


Enjoy!