By Helen Foster James, Ed.D., Kathleen Krull and Peter Neumeyer, Ph.D.
Since you can't judge a book by its cover, we dove deep inside the pages of dozens and dozens of books to select these winners. From warm baby kisses through first kindergarten steps to middle-school conflict resolution, each of these wonderful books will engage and inspire children.
Gold Award Winners
How Many Kisses Do You Want Tonight?, by Varsha Bajaj, illustrated by Ivan Bates, Little, Brown & Co., 2004, $15.95. In this warm and sweet interactive bedtime-play book all little animals, from duck to spider, get kisses from Mommy and Daddy. At story's end, your little listener gets kisses, too, from one to a million.
Moo Cow Book, by Sandra Boynton, Simon & Schuster, 2004, $16.95. A cuddly, plush moo-cow face with six padded-cloth pages presents a little love message, complete with a sound chip that moos. Sure to become a baby favorite.
My Little SoftPlay Books, SoftPlay Inc., 2002, $19.95, www.softplayforkids.com. This is a bag of four baby books, ingeniously manufactured from cloth and sponge, perfect for little hands. Each book (on shapes, numbers, words and colors) contains five chubby pages, all squeezable, washable and nontoxic. For very early language development, but mostly for fun.
Honors Award Winners
3 Little Monkeys Nursery Rhyme Book, Sassy Inc., 2003; $9.99; www.sassybaby.com; for ages 9 mos. and up. Children can hear a favorite song by pushing the button and following the story and melody. This sturdy book is made of water-resistant, phthalate-free vinyl and has a textured plastic handle - just right for a baby's little grip.
Baby Galileo: The World Around Me Sky, by Julie Aigner-Clark, illustrated by Nadeem Zaidi; Hyperion Books for Children, 2004; $15.99; for ages 9 mos. and up. This sturdy book unfolds to wrap around your child in two different directions and encourages interaction and imagination as you and your child discover together the sky, night and day, animals and more.
Little Softy Books, SoftPlay Inc., 2002; $15.95; www.softplayforkids.com; for newborns to age 2. A bag of four baby books starring farm animals, made from cloth and sponge, with rattles and plastic rings to attach books to the crib. Sure to provide hours of amusement.
Picture Me One, Picture Me Two and Picture Me Three, by Deborah D'Andrea, designed by Ali Mohrman; Playhouse Publishing, 2004; $5.99; www.playhousepublishing.com; for newborns to age 3. This series of three books showcases photographs of your child's developmental milestones during his or her first three years of life.
About the Judge: