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As a mother of two toddlers, getting them to sit still for a few minutes can be a challenge. Both of my kids are actually pretty good at independent play when they feel like it. Of course it seems like every time I need when they play quietly (for example when I cook, do the housework or when I need to go to the bathroom), that’s when they decide to cling to my legs. As such, I’m always on the lookout for activities, books, and toys that can hold their attention for a short time. And if it helps them learn or practice a new skill, I’m all for it. Books are some of my children’s favorites, and within that general genre there is a type of book that you may not be familiar with. This is called busy books.
What are the busy books for toddlers?
For starters, what is a loaded book? Also known as a quiet book, activity book, or quiet time book, it’s not just a contextual or sensory book. There is a purpose to a loaded book. According to FirstCry’s parenting article “Everything you need to know about busy books for toddlers”:
Well, busy books or quiet books for toddlers, preschoolers and even babies are specially designed books to practice the newly acquired skill and even learn new skills. These are types of educational toys that contain age-appropriate content for your child.
Excerpted from “Everything You Need To Know About Busy Books For Toddlers” by Aarohi Achwal
Busy books for toddlers can have multiple uses: they can help a child practice their fine motor skills; identify shapes, colors or letters; and encourage problem solving. There is also a sensory factor, as many busy books are made of more than paper. Many are made with fabric, felt, Velcro and other clever textures.
Busy do-it-yourself books for toddlers
The great thing about busy books is that you don’t always have to buy them either. There are many DIY options you can find online to create your own loaded book for your child. As I mentioned above, many of the supplies that make up a busy book can be found at your local craft stores.
Certainly, there are pros and cons to creating your own busy books. A lot of planning, cutting, sewing, and gluing can go into creating a busy book from scratch. Finding, organizing and assembling materials can take time. You’ll want to plan ahead to choose the theme and purpose of your busy book and create it based on your child’s specific interests and development. This process may not work for you as a parent or caregiver, and that’s absolutely fine! I am by no means the best craftsman; I tend to get a bit chaotic with my scissor cutting skills.
For those who want to buy loaded books, I’ll include some options below that you can buy out of the box. For you crafty people – I salute you – here are some DIY resources:
Resources for busy do-it-yourself books for toddlers
Make, Learn and Play by Lily Zunic
To start off our list, Lily Zunic has put together a lovely website and guide to creating busy books for your child. She reviews the supplies, skills, and time needed to make your own busy books (or as she calls them, quiet books) and offers free patterns to get started on your own!
Kindred Inspiration’s How to Make a Busy Book
For those who are good at printing and laminating, the Kindred Inspiration website offers a way to create your own busy book without all the gluing. He recommends having a laminator and a printer to create pages, and also make sure you have a pair of scissors. This resource will help you create pages for identifying shapes, stacking scoops of ice cream, and more.
And then comes How to Make a Silent Book of L
This is a great resource as it doesn’t require you to create a specific book, but does provide a list of links to create the pages and themes you want for your child. He also recommends Pinterest boards and points to other busy bookmakers for inspiration.
Busy books for toddlers you can buy
Finally, here are some options you can purchase. These busy books are ready to go for your child. As these are pre-made, I recommend checking out what each book entails and what age they are intended for. Some busy books are more like activity chart books while others are more complex.
Silent Book for Toddlers (2+ years)
This silent book you can buy on Etsy from featured seller MiniMoms, who creates various Montessori toys. You can build and customize the Quiet Book, starting at $21.25 and going up in price.
Busy book for kids (3 years and up)
This is an Amazon option created by iHarPro. This is an activity workbook, with pages focused on identifying letters, dinosaurs, colors and more! It’s a great option for older kids who want to focus on practice for preschool.
My first busy book (The world of Eric Carle) (1 year and over)
For those looking for a loaded book that looks more like a hardback, My first loaded book is a great option. This is a 12-page hardback book that includes activities on each page to identify colors, shapes, etc. Being a hardback, it’s a great choice for those under two. It’s also one of the more affordable options, being under $10.
The busy Peanutshell book for toddlers (6 months and up)
This is a fabulous busy book, with a handle for your child to carry. It’s soft and easy to use, allowing your child to focus on shapes, colors, learning to tell time and following a line. One of the things I love the most about this loaded book is that it comes with a mesh bag so you can clean it in your washing machine.
Melissa & Doug K’s Kids My First Activity (Birth & Up)
My kids are big fans of Melissa & Doug toys. This activity book is great because, like the Peanutshell book, it’s machine washable and has plenty of pages for fun activities. Kids can learn to tie a shoe, tell the time, and match colors and shapes.
More reading resources
In addition to providing loaded books for toddlers and babies, it’s important to create an inviting reading space. I’ve written in the past about creating a great reading nook for toddlers and cute shelves for nurseries. Whatever your budget and interests, we hope this is a good starting point for finding or creating a busy book for your kids. Let the love of reading and discovery begin!