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I am a huge fan of Begin Smart Books. When we started 5 Minutes for Books, I decided to have Carrie, toddler mama, review them, since my youngest child had just turned four. You can find her review of All Gone; One, Two; and and Mommy and Me HERE. We also featured a great essay from Harriet Ziefert, the series creator: On Reading to Infants, Babies and Toddlers.
So when a box of some newer titles landed on my doorstep, I was so happy! What’s more, even though these books are designed for newborns to two years old, my four-year-old son Kyle still enjoys them! I think that as parents we are always tempted to push our kids developmentally — by giving them toys slightly above their age. Sometimes it’s fine, and they can often enjoy them, and we feel like they will “last longer,” but in truth, a toy (or book) that is targeted right where they are is going to benefit them most. I would never buy these books made for young toddlers for him, but I think that the fact that they do hold his interest are a big testament to how great they are.
The Begin Smart Books are all categorized by age: newborn to six months, six to twelve months, twelve to eighteen months, and eighteen to twenty-four months, and are developmentally appropriate to that age range.
For example, in the under six months category, you will find “peekaboo” type books that help reinforce object permanence. Hello, Baby! has a cutout that shows through to the next page — either the baby’s mouth or eyes as an object (a hat, a blankie etc) covers and uncovers. It’s a great pre-cursor to a lift-the-flap book. Begin Smart: Night-Night, Baby is a beautiful, soft fabric book. I love these kinds of books, because babies can snuggle up with them at naptime as they get a bit older, and entertain themselves as they are waking up or trying to go to sleep. This book invites babies to put to bed various creatures: baby, kitty, mouse, pig as you turn the soft blanket from one to the other saying “night, night.” Finally, Baby Faces is a fold-out book that features what babies love to look at most: other babies’ faces!
For babies six to twelve months old, there are books like What Does Baby Do?, which has a sturdy flap that flips over showing a thought and an action. For example: Baby sees a kitty. What does baby do? (flip) Baby makes nice. Nice kitty. Woof features pictures of dogs of all types accompanied by the simple descriptive text: toy dog, noisy dog, happy dog etc. It also has a fun sound-effect button that the baby can push to hear a dog bark. Hi! Bye! is a perfect example of a great developmental book. I’m sure that most people would find it far too simple for their ten-month-old baby, but it’s so cute — dog shaped, thick pages, and it gets the point across. The face shows “hi,” then the page is turned showing the rear of the animal (dog, pig, etc) and the word “bye.”
For twelve to eighteen month babies, explore one of their favorite times, bathtime, with cute felt-type pictures and rhyming text in Splish-Splash.
For the year-and-a-half plus child, Who Am I? is a delightful book that has two hand holds on either side and opens up to give Mommy a place to peek through as she’s reading. Kyle also enjoyed holding this book up and “reading” each page as he made the animal sound and asked me, “Who am I?” Feet Are Neat reminds me a lot of Dr. Seuss with rhyming text that teaches concepts such as opposites (fast and slow feet) and colors (red and green feet, making paint footprints), and numbers (two feet and ten toes).
I cannot recommend Begin Smart Books more highly for your own baby or as a useful and fun baby shower or first birthday (or Christmas!) gift.
One reader (U.S. addresses only) will receive a few Begin Smart books (NOT all the ones listed here). Leave a comment if you want to win, and we will announce the winner in next week’s column (on December 22).
Please see our site’s Terms and Conditions of Use for a complete list of our Contest and Giveaway Rules. This promotion is void where prohibited.
The winner of the signed copy of Matrimony is #13 lifeasamama.
Donna K says
Please, count me in.
Michelle H. says
I would love to win any of these sets, since I have a large family and am expecting another child.
kathy pease says
PLEASE COUNT ME IN ON THIS AWESOME GIVEAWAY 🙂
Kristyn Martin says
I would love to win this for my son! Thanks for the chance!
Lily Kwan says
Please enter me into the contest. Thanks!
Brenda S. says
My grandkids (toddler) would love some new books! thanks!
angela cisco says
I would love to win this!
Kelly L says
I love giving and receiving books as gifts. My daughter would love these. Thanks!
Pamela White says
Very cute books, my son could use some new ones.
Brenda Park says
Very nice books, my kids would definitely benefit especially the youngest. Thanks for the chance to win!
Candie L says
We get so caught up in toys and other brighty toys that we forget how important a book could be for a young child. This would be great for several family friends who have children 1-2 years old
claudette flanigan says
how fun! My daughter-in-law would just love to have these for our little guy!
Sarah Berry says
My DD loves books I would love to win this for her. Thanks
Jessica Rowe says
I would love this for my girls!
My little girl would love these! There are terrific!
Cindy Ellis says
This would be for my granddaughter
Peggy Gorman says
Awesome giveaway! I believe kids can read at a young age and this is a wonderful start to giving them the gift of reading
Marcy Strahan says
Reading is a childs passport to the world! I believe that reading & the love of reading is a foundation to a happy & successful life for anyone!
I would love to win this & share it with the kids.
Elizabeth M. says
These sound just super!
I would heart win these for my grandsons.ty 4 the entry:)
Very young children can learn to read…….I would like to win!
They look great!
Aniela R. says
These look really cute, I’d love to have them for our new baby.
Angela Prater says
I would love to win – these look like great books.
Lara Aleff says
I’d love to win these great books!
Renee G says
These look like great books.
David Nguyen says
gina snow says
i would love to win
we love books at my house and want to try these
Angela DeBonis says
Oooo Sign me up! Thanks
Kristin Harvey says
this would be great
This would be great.
My kids would like these
Lisa Fosses says
these books would make great gifts
mary boemmel says
Would love this for my grandson.
john ferris says
A fantastic set of books. Please enter me.
Ed Nemmers says
Marion B says
These would be cool for my niece!
I think its so important to read to your baby and start a foundation for a learning and a love of books – these seem so sweet and perfect for my soon to be new niece. And the third for my little one.
Debra F says
I think my pre-schooler would really love these. Thanks for all your great giveaways and happy holidays.
Jessica Davidson says
I’d love to win these great books
Steph Elias says
Looks like a great set of books.
Melissa Butler says
Love these books ~ I am a firm believer in reading to your child, from infancy on.
Heather B says
These are cute, my daughter would love them
Janine Brotzman says
I Would love to win this for my daughter! Thanks for the great giveaway!
misfitmookie at gmail.com
Lori Z. says
I’m constantly looking for colorful books that my son might like and these look great!
Jennifer M says
I would love to have these for my daughter and any other children we might have.
Ann Marie Walker says
Thanks for the great giveaway. I have 2 little ones that would enjoy them.
SHELLEY VILLARREAL says
Would be greatful to win. Thanks a bunch.
Great prize, enter me please.
Martha Payne says
Please count me in and thanks for the contest!
codisweepstakes at gmail dot com
REBECCA TOWNER says
would love to win
Andria Shelton says
These books sound wonderful, I would love a chance to win.
Jennifer R says
My daughter would love some new books!
Hesper F says
The books sound great! Thanks for the chance.
Terra Heck says
These would be great books for my young’un.
These look like great books.
Vicki Wurgler says
delightful books-I’d love to read these to my grandkids
Jennifer F says
My daughter would love these books.
Miranda Kuskie says
These are such cute books! My toddler would definitely love to read them with me.
Vicky Boackle says
great for my grandson.
I’d love to win these for my grandson.
John Mizell says
Grandson would love these
Mike Weisberg says
I want to win
Please enter me!
jan koontz says
just to cool
Mozi Esme's Mommy says
These books look wonderful! And I have a US address.
can never have too many books!
What a great give-away! My son and I usually read at least an hour a day! We just LOVE books!
Kathy Amos says
This is a great giveaway
Shannon Baas says
The Diaper Diaries says
My little one loves books. Count me in!!
I’d love to have these. They sound great for the little ones.
Kathy Scott says
I told my boys early on that I would always buy them a book. Well, they love to read and are breaking the bank. These books would help a lot.
Jessica T says
This would make a great gift!
A child can never have too many books…and I like that these ones are “interactive.” Those are always my daughter’s favorite kind. She loves books where you can lift up flaps, smell different scents, etc.
These sound like wonderful books. I like the bold gaphic illustrations
These are cute. Would love to win!
Diane S says
i am a subscriber
Diane S says
i know just the little ones who would love to share these books. ages newborn to 7.
Thank you for the giveaway
Books are such a wonderful gift for everyone. My husband has many coworkers who are expecting babies and I would love to win these to give as a gift to one of them.
My two year old would love these.
This is adorable. I really like the toddler who am I book. so cute.
Susan C says
I would love to read Night Night Baby to my 8 month old grandson!
smchester at gmail dot com
Mar Detrick says
Thanks for the great suggestions!
rachel burke says
i want these books
Ronni Fox says
Just perfect for my adorable grandaughter..she is just developing an interest in books.
I get your newsletter as well!
I am a subscriber 🙂
These would be wonderful for my son!!
I love these books.
Julie Donahue says
I sub to the newsletter
Julie Donahue says
I have your button on my blog.
Julie Donahue says
This looks great!
I just looked up some baby books for my dd!
your button’s on my blog!
these books sound great 🙂
I get your newsletter!
Stephen Saunders says
Merry Ho Ho!
These books would be awesome for my little nephew!
Amy from Occupation: Mommy says
My 19 month old would love these!
christopher h says
love to win these
We check these books out of the library but we would love to have our own!!
Michael Capp says
I’d love to win!
I’ve seen these advertised and they look so cute! our twins LOVE to read and we have another baby on the way…so another excuse for more books! yeah!
Adrienne Gordon says
judy brittle says
I would just love these for my grandchildren. Thank you so much!
ellen cunningham says
I’d love to win these for my son. Thanks for the chance.
Kat R says
What a great way to introduce your child to reading and books
Lisa C says
I’d love to win these books for my son!
Marlena U. says
We love books and would love to win! Thanks!!
What great looking books!
These would be great for my daughter!
Angie L says
My little girl would live these.
I’d loves some books for my youngest.
Stephanie V says
books are always welcome in our home — my 18 month old would love some of the older ones reviewed like Who Am I?
My boys would love this!
Jill W says
Sounds right up my 20 month old’s alley, thanks!
Sounds really cool.
Jaclyn Reynolds says
Would love to win this for my youngest son! He would really enjoy it!
Angela C. says
I don’t think I’ve ever read any of these. They would be great for my 8 month old.
accoupons at gmail dot com
michele anne jaquays says
A nice gift for my nieces and nephews
And your newsletter!
Subscribe to your feed!
Would love these!
becky fitzpatrick says
would love to win
susan varney says
loove to win
We sure do love to read around here!
Sound cute to me. We love books. 😀
I’ve never heard of these before, but would love to try them! We LOVE books at our house!
I would love to win one of these books for my little grandson
Michelle Rosborough says
I’m on your newsletter list
Michelle Rosborough says
Sheila Capell says
I’m always looking for new books and love that these books help reinforce what the age should be developing. I need to look into these a little more. How exciting! My 3 yr old LOVES books, I read to him a lot. I need to be better about reading to my 10 mo. boy though, he’s totally getting the short end of the stick. Where does the time go???!!
Marisa M says
My 18 month old would love them– he is really into books right now.
and have your button on my blog
and the newsletter
I subscribe to the feed
I would love these!
These books look great!
would love to win
I love books, but haven’t purchased any of these. I would love to give them a try!
Richelle F says
I’m subscribed to your feed.
Richelle F says
These look great!
We would love to add this to the baby books we already own! They sound great.
these look like great books – thanks!
These books are adorable!
Thank you! We’ve been looking for some new books, so even if I don’t win, I’ll be purchasing a few of these for our daughter.
The frog-on-the-cover version of Who Am I is my 2 yo daughter’s favorite! I’d love more books in this line. Thanks!
The twins would LOVE these!
My daughter loves books more than anything and would love these!
we think this is fab
Great books for the kiddos! THanks.
Through The Canon says
My babies would love these books!
Susan Heim says
These sound like wonderful books. I’d love to win some!
I want to win! 🙂
These books sound like fun! My son and I love story time and are always looking for new books to add to the pile.
Ooooh! I want these. What a great idea.
I would love to win.
We <3 books at our house.
The Gang's All Here! says
Li’l Empress loves a good “booka booka” and grins her little scrunchy nose grin when one of us suggests reading time. These would be so fun – and something new for us all. One can only read Little Bunny’s Book of Opposites so many times in one day before one goes completely batty.
Alexandra Hancock says
My 13 month old is constantly bringing me books from his shelf and now we have read them all (over and over). We would both appreciate a few new books. Thanks!
alexandra dot hancock at gmail dot com
oh I love books- its like jumping into an adventure each time
Would love to win these for my 17-month old niece 🙂
Laura Harrison says
Oh. Every baby needs books! I would love to be entered in this. Thank you.
geneveve2 (at) gmail (dot) com
C. clemens says
hi, enter me to win this nice prize
Sounds great! Sign me up!
Lori (teacher turned mommy) says
I’ve never seen these before and they look neat!
We are book monsters here. We’d love to win!
Awesome! Sign me up!
We love books in our house. Probably read 15-20 a week! Thanks for the giveaway…we’d love to add these to our treasures.
That “Who Am I?” book is darling. Thanks for this giveaway.
How cool! Some of these books would be just perfect for my granddaughter. I especially like “Woof” and “Hi! Bye!” because she LOVES dogs.
Thank you for offering this giveaway! 🙂
Good luck all!
Yay, we can always read more books!
My littles would have so much fun with these!
I would love to these for my granddaughter.
My baby and I love Begin Smart books. We only have a few, but they are her favorites!
oh we love books – and these look super. Thanks for the great giveaway
My little guy would love these!
Excellent giveaway! Yes, please enter me!
I hadn’t heard of these before–they’d be great for my little girl.
karen c. says
My toddler would love some new books!
Mama Bub says
These are precious. I’ll be ordering some regardless.