Any child who was read to as a baby has most likely come across “board books,” which are the thick, cardboard-paged books that are durable enough in the hands of a toddler who is teething. We all know board books; they are usually very basic in content–focusing on shapes or colors–a subject matter that is understood by its very, very young readers.
But that is all changing. Publishers are now creating board books that feature classics of literature, such as Moby Dick and Sense and Sensibility. The first question that would probably come to mind is: “why is this being done?” or “how can a toddler benefit from a canonical piece of literature?” Well, the argument is that babies most definitely will not comprehend the struggle between fisherman and whale, but they will process the ship and the ocean’s waves. The entire mental process behind this idea is rather similar to the idea of playing classical music to your children (or even while pregnant). As the baby’s mind is shaping and forming, exposing them to these great pieces of work can further along their growth and development.
From my own personal stance, I am not quite sure if these classic literature board books will do anything to support that argument, but I still don’t have anything personally against them. However, some people may strongly take offense to turning wonderfully written, iconic pieces of literature (that have lasted through years and years) into board books that will most likely be physically chewed and sucked on by babies.
It begs the question: what would Herman Melville and Jane Austen have to say about this?