book_wizard_250Look around your local bookstore, if you’re still fortunate to have one, and you’ll see a lot of books for babies in the board book variety. They come in different shapes and sizes. Some have textures. Some make sounds. Most are the same rehashed concepts of colors, farm animals, shapes, and letters.

However, the people over at Gibbs-Smith are trying to change the game and introduce a whole new set of board books to the market in the form of BabyLit!

BabyLit board books still teach concepts like shapes and colors, but they do it by using literary classics. There are currently sixteen BabyLit board books with at least two more to be released next year. All of them are written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Alison Oliver.

The titles and themes are as follows:



As you can see, there are some duplicate themes, particularly among Colors and Counting. However, that gives you, the parent, the option to get one that you like or get them all if you so choose.

Each book is vibrant in color and has little “Easter eggs” of information scattered throughout the book. For example, in Moby Dick, it gives you the names of the sailors on the ship. Your kids won’t get the meaning of this, but it should stir up memories for the parents. It also serves as an early introduction to classic literature for the youngest of children.

And if the books aren’t cute enough for you, several of them have corresponding playsets, stuffed characters, and my personal favorite, TOTE BAGS! I own three of the totes – Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein, and Tin Man, and even though tote bag Frankenstein is reading Paradise Lost, tote bag Tin Man says, “My heart beats for books.”  I can’t vouch for the characters or playsets, but the tote bags are very sturdy and are perfect for trips to the library or toting your BabyLit books (or other books) to and from Grandma’s house.

If your kids have outgrown the board book stage, they have three new titles, which are considered “First Steps” books. They are Goodnight Mr. Darcy, Edgar Gets Ready for Bed, and Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart.

Goodnight Mr. Darcy, is a parody of Goodnight Moon, which uses Pride and Prejudice and a country dance as the backdrop for the story. The two Edgar stories are based on Edgar Allan Poe’s works, The Raven and The Tell-Tale Heart. I have to admit that the young Raven named Edgar in these two stories is a bit of a brat, but the artwork is nicely done, so I plan to read them to my kids, but use them as stories where you ask, “What did Edgar do wrong? What should Edgar have done?”

Overall, this is a solid brand of children’s books for parents who love literature. If you aren’t into classics, then you might just want to skate on by these books. I did a price comparison on Amazon among board books, and these board books are a bit on the high side, at about $10 a book. However, I know Catholic Moms are smart and savvy moms, so they would wait for the price to drop on Amazon, like it has for Alice in Wonderland.  Or they would like BabyLit on Facebook because they now know that they advertise for periodic sales from places like Groupon or Zulily.

Be sure to check out our Book Notes archive.

Copyright 2014, Stuart Dunn