Last month a line of baby board books based on literary classics was released and I haven’t been this excited about a baby product since discovering my savior of a Fisher Price Little Lamb Swing. The brainchild of Suzanne Gibbs Taylor, the BabyLit series was born when she realized that no one had ever ”taken Jane Austen and made it for babies.”
I wasn’t excited about these books because I really thought my two-year-old would follow the complicated narratives of “Anna Karenina” ”Wuthering Heights” or ”Romeo and Juliet,” but I love the idea of using anything familiar to my real life and introducing it to my kids’ lives. The books, designed to be familiar to parents, “use the stories as a springboard to explain counting, colors or the concept of opposites.”
Already a fan of the Classical Baby series on HBO, my kids have seen the Art Show, the Music Show and all three poetry shows more times than I can count. Again, I don’t have these seared on my DVR in the hopes of raising the next Robert Frost or Martha Graham. The videos are just brilliantly produced and thoroughly enjoyable. After a long day, the sentimental poem of Elizabeth Barrett Browning or the melodic voice of Andy Garcia puts me in the right frame of mind to battle bedtime.
I had similar hopes for the BabyLit series when I first heard about them. But a quick search on Amazon dampened my excitement.
One review of “Sherlock Holmes in the Hound of the Baskervilles: in the Hound of the Baskervilles: A BabyLit Sounds Primer:”
I was excited to read this book with my one year old but I am terribly disappointed. It’s one word per page (e.g. The left page says “leaves” and the right “rustle”), it has absolutely nothing to do with Sherlock and less with the Hounds of the Baskervilles. A very expensive board book and not at all worth it. Just 10 pairs of words. I would skip this one and try another. Illustrations are good for what they are, but it’s not enough.
Well, that was disappointing, but things really turned ugly when I checked out “Sense and Sensibility: A BabyLit Opposites Primer:”
The idea of opposites is a good one and the illustrations are nice. BUT, in order to show the opposites of single and married, they show an unhappy single girl and contrast it to a big, beautiful wedding cake with a jubilant couple on top. The message is clear: single is sad and married is happy. I’m not willing to pass that Cinderella philosophy to a child of the 21st century. Single doesn’t mean unwhole. Marriage doesn’t mean whole, happily ever after, end of story. I like fantasy, but not when it’s judgemental [sic].
“Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Counting Primer” got the best overall feedback, earning 4.5 stars and 85 reviews, but I think I’m going to hold out. Looks like another night of Lou Reed and Pitch Perfect in my house.