For Parents

For Parents

Board Books as Toys

Books are for reading, right?  To this we reply an emphatic “Yes! And…” Reading with your child is important on many levels, but this post is about how to use those board books you have lying around your home as a toy.  These heavy duty book are versatile and can be added into many other toy sets that you may have to help expand the complexity of the play.

Check out our main toy recommendation page here for general suggestions about how to play and engage with your toddler and information to help you identify what your child’s current play level is.  Have fun!


Simple Play:

  • A board book can serve as a perfect ramp for a ball or car.  You can either set it up like an upside-down “v” or put one end of the book on something taller (like a box) to create a ramp.  You can also hold it slanted over the edge of a table, that way, when you put a car down the ramp, it will crash to the floor (what could be more fun for a toddler than making things crash loudly?).  While you’re playing, you can sentences such as, The car is up. It went down. You’re pushing the car. The car is going fast!



Combination Play:

  • Board books can be stacked into a tower either lying flat or standing up (alternate the direction of the “v” so that they stand on top of each other).  You can say things such as, We’re stacking the books. It’s on top. We made a tower. The books crashed!
  • If you are playing with a train set, books can serve as wonderful tunnels to put over the tracks.  Then you can use location words like, The train is under. It went through the tunnel. And you’ve also expanded the train set play so that it has more steps/complexity.



Early Pretend Play:

  • Books can serve as great little houses if they are turned upside down.  Line a few of them up and you have garages to park cars in or houses for small animal or people figures. (The sheep is in his house. The house is dark. The sheep is sleeping.)


Advanced Play:

  • Pretend that an upside down book is a car wash for a toy car. You can talk about how the car is dirty, make some funny washing noises while it goes through the car wash, and when it comes out you can talk about how it is clean now.
  • If you are playing with toy animals or people, introduce the idea that it is raining (you can make rain noises and move your hands/fingers up and down like rain) and help your child put all of the animals or people into the house (overturned book) so that they stay dry.