Black on White by Tana Hoban – Baby Book Review

Black on White by Tana Hoban - Baby Book Review - Front CoverMy daughter loves staring at contrasting patterns like our painted wall or the ceiling. So when we found a book comprised of just high-contrast images, my wife and I knew that our baby would love it.

Black on White by Tana Hoban is the most basic baby book I have ever read. Black on White has no words. That is the main reason my 10-week old daughter Arya loves it.

Black on White is only 10 pages long. Counting the front and back covers there are 12 different images throughout the book: bib, utensils, fish, butterfly, leaf, elephant, pail, glasses, crackers, keys, doll, and train.

Every image is dark black. Every page is white. The jet black pictures present a high contrast against the white background. Each interior page is filled with just one picture.

My baby loves staring at the shapes. Arya’s favorite picture is the butterfly (on page 3). Unlike the other shapes, the butterfly has an intricate pattern of interspersed black and white design throughout its wings. My daughter loves looking at the wings and moving her eyes all around the page.

The book is designed to have caregivers talk through each page with their baby. Rather than relying on pre-determined words chosen by the author, Black on White allows each individual reader to talk about the book using their own words in their own language.

My mom (i.e. Arya’s grandmother) “read” the book to her in Japanese. My wife likes to talk about the book in terms of familiar objects like daddy’s eyeglasses or mommy’s Ritz crackers. I like to discuss what the images make me think of — like how the fish on the front would taste really good steamed with some lemon butter.

I consider Black on White the best first book for a baby. We have read lots of other baby board books to Arya before, but this one was the first book she really enjoys.

Black on White costs $6.99 new from most retailers. I bought a used copy for $3.99 from Amazon with free shipping.

Even at the brand new price, I would have been happy if my baby looked at the book two times. Now that we have gone through it with her a dozen times in the past week alone makes me feel like a genius for paying under $4.