Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Baby bookworm

 We are a certified household of book lovers.  I spent a large portion of my childhood with my nose in a book, and have been fortunate enough to have been able to work as a library assistant at times during my very varied work history.  Matt (hubby) loves historic novels and is working his way through classic literature at the moment.  We both read to the boys during the day, and especially at bedtime, so I guess it's no surprise that the boys love books too.  Ollie went to sleep grumbling tonight because I only read him four books and he wanted me to read him 'ten books' - he picked what he wanted from his bookshelves and then staggered in to my room under a pile of actually about twenty books.

Toby (pictured) took to books almost as soon as he could focus his eyes.  If I can't find him it's because he's perched in the reading corner in Ollie's room or has tucked himself into my bed with a book.  His current favourite is Orange, Pear, Apple, Bear by Emily Gravett, published by Macmillan Children's Books, which is wonderfully simple and surreal (also the first book Ollie, who's three, has learned to read for himself)

We all love Macmillan's books, and so were hugely excited to receive some books from them to review this week.  There were two for Toby, and two for Ollie.  Look out for another post later on reviewing Ollie's books.  The first book out of the parcel was Dear Zoo Spin and Say and was met with a lot of enthusiasm from both boys.  It is an activity version of their much loved (and well worn) Dear Zoo book.  Instead of the narrative and lift-the-flaps of the version we already have, this one comes with spinners and a variety of new characters.  Toby loved spinning the pointer around and having myself or Ollie calling out what it had landed on.  He also liked roaring at any animal the spinner landed on that he thought might roar.  This board book was extremely well built and should survive as much attention as it's predecessor has.  It is also a lovely way to teach animal recognition skills, colours, numbers and counting, either as a first introduction in smaller children, or to increase and cement previous learning in slightly older pre-schoolers.  It is a fantastic addition to our home-story telling toolbox too.  Spin the pointer and pick an animal to begin your tale, then keep spinning to select other elements as you go along. 'I went to the zoo and I saw a ....spin....leopard, I tried to have lunch with it but it was...spin...too scary, I went next door and found a etc...  This kind of game mixes random elements with your gentle guidance in a direction you think the story will take, plus lots of not-so-gentle ideas from your little one.  Most of ours somehow end up involving poo. If you follow the web link it will take you to information about the book, but also to supplementary activities such as a printable colouring sheet

The next book for Toby was a really charming new book called 'This Royal Baby' by Zita Newcome, which is perfectly timed to tap into the baby fever surrounding the birth of Prince George here in Britain.  It is a pull-the-tab action book, with eleven different babies for your own baby to play with.  As with the spin and say book, this is a really sturdy board book, which came as a relief given how many lift-the-flap and pull-the-tab books I end up having to mend (or return sheepishly to the library for them to mend).  It's not that the boys are rough with books - they are oddly well behaved with them - it's just that lots of books seem to have 'gone cheap' and not been designed for babies to really get to grips with.  Toby struggled a bit to pull the tabs when they were brand new, but fortunately there are also circular tabs which rock from side to side and were easier for his slightly uncoordinated paws to manage.  The contents were sweet without being cloying, with babies wiggling ears, waving their arms and blowing bubbles.  Even very small babies love to look at pictures of baby faces, so this book would be a great choice for a gift to new parents.  It even had both by boys squealing with laughter at the cheeky baby poking it's tongue out, which was really unusual since they never normally laugh out loud at books.  The range of different faces is a lovely way to introduce children to talking about emotions - Ollie was fascinated by 'the tired baby wears a frown' and had lots of questions about why it was tired, why did it look sad and so on.  It also eased in the idea that babies are all the same, all have the same emotions and actions, whether they're wearing a crown or not.  I think this book will be a popular choice in our home for a long time to come.

Our thanks to Macmillan Children's Books for sending these to us to review.  The book images are from their website.  Toby reading in bed and the opinions expressed are genuine and all my own :)

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