Anyone who’s taken care of a baby or toddler know that they love to put things into their mouths. And books are certainly no exception. But what are they exactly sucking, chewing and teething on with their board books? Most likely, these books contain laminates, foils and potentially harmful glues—not a great addition to their diet!
Rob Coleman and Allison Manley (husband and wife) are the founders of the award-winning sustainable design firm, Rogue Element, based in Chicago. They share a deep knowledge and strong commitment to environmental issues; when they became parents, it was only natural for them to turn their attention to baby products. There is (thankfully!) a movement afoot to produce products, such as diapers, soaps, clothes, food, and furniture that will keep babies and young children as free of chemicals as possible…but what of books? Not finding any board books that were not created with toxic materials, they set out to create books, themselves, using environmentally-conscious paper, inks and printing processes, and established Squishy Press.
Along with creating non-toxic and safer baby books, their vision included books that would be manufactured in the U.S.A., as well as being beautifully designed and photographed, so they got renowned photographer Steven Gross on board. The results are delightful! Right now, their line consists of two board books for the under-3 set, Silly Faces and Opposites, but more titles will follow, as well as some toys. These books have also proved helpful for older children on the autism spectrum who have trouble recognizing facial expressions.
When someone is inspired to create quality products with our children’s and our planet’s health in mind, we should support them so that they—and similar endeavors—will continue to flourish.