Children’s Book Week at 100: New Board Books Are Inclusive

This week marks the 100th anniversary of America’s longest running literacy initiative: Children’s Book Week. We’ll bring you a slice of inspiration each day here, from Board books (today) through picture books, chapter books, middle grade and teen choices, graphic novels and audiobooks. There’s something new for everyone as we honor this century-old occasion.

The very youngest readers can celebrate Children’s Book Week with a crop of new board books that are inclusive in so many ways. Yes, there are good board books featuring baby animals and familiar objects like spoons and diapers. And there are new board books that bring cultural awareness and reflection, too.

From Kube Publishing, the board book series “I Say…” offers toddler-appropriate introductions to common Islamic words, one word introduced in each of the four-book set. Join “brother and sister Nabil and Noura…as they eat, drink, sneeze, play, read, greet and much more” in sweetly illustrated simple texts by Noor H. Dee and Iput. Start with I Say Alhamdulillah and follow with I Say As-Salamu ‘alaykum, I Say Bismillah, and I Say Mashallah.

Sets of related board books make excellent baby shower and newborn gifts. Along with the set above, we celebrate Barefoot Books’ set, “Baby’s Day,” also available in bilingual English and Spanish. Each of four important time periods in any baby’s day has its own title, each illustrated with crisp black and white photos. Together the babies depicted are diverse in many ways. The cover of Baby Food gives us a smiling, spoon munching cherub with just-emerging Asian features. The yawning infant with closed eyes on the cover of Baby Dream appears to have European ancestry. On Baby Play, the clearly delighted tot has Down Syndrome, and Baby Talk shows both child and father who are of African descent. Beyond the covers, each book shows a wide and international range of babies, families, and settings where the titular events happen in a variety of ways.

Child’s Play Library also has a new set of bilingual Spanish and English board books coming our way. The “Wild!/¡Fascinantes!” series explores Numbers/Numeros, Shapes/Formas, Opposites/Opuestos, and Colors/Colores, with Courtney Dicmus having provided just enough narrative thread in each set of humorous illustrations to give caregiver and baby or toddler lots to discuss. From a small group of anteaters helpfully forming a triangle in Shapes to the adventures of birds on a wire in Numbers, these are the kind of board books that allow for countless imagined tales as well as concept learning.

Happy 100th Children’s Book Week! Come back tomorrow for a parade of new picture books to add to your celebration.

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