Only what you need for your baby. Really. (OK – and some fantastic things you don’t that are pretty cool.)
Why am I a big pop-up book fan? Because they’re awesome, that’s why. Awesome for me, that is. Not so awesome for curious small children. Correction: awesome for them too, but not for the book itself, which might last one session in the hands of a curious toddler.
Much better – and fantastic for travel and self-serve entertainment – are lift-the-flap books. I either didn’t know about this genre or had forgotten about it in the glare of my pop-up-book enthusiasm but am so glad I ran across a tip to get them for Astrid to entertain her on plane trips. Excellent, tried and true idea.
They’ve also served us well in the mornings: I put a few books at one end of Astrid’s crib at night and she “reads” them for half an hour on her own while we get some sleep. The lift-the-flap ones are her favorites, which is understandable since, even after the surprise factor has worn off, they have moving parts.
There are basically two categories. The first is board books for littler kids where the whole page is a flap. (You’ll still end up mending these when you leave them with little Harrington on his own, but he won’t completely destroy them.) The other is for older kids (2+) who have more self-control re: tearing off the exciting flaps: the flaps are little windows within the page. (You can get these for littler ones too, but save them for reading time together.)
In a pre-flight panic last summer, I ran out to a local bookstore to find some of these and was glad I did the shopping in person. Some of the lift-the-flap books, especially for babies, are a little bit lame: not very dynamic or dense illustrations, which you’ll want, since there aren’t really story lines to follow. In San Francisco, the Books, Inc. branch in Laurel Village has a fantastic selection of books for kids, including these. Don’t worry about paying more for shopping off-line – the prices on Amazon for these board books are the same list prices as in stores + you’ll be supporting your local business and getting ones you like better anyway.
For older little ones, Gossie and Friends First Flap Book, about $10 on Amazon, is adorable and accessible.