Saturday, November 25, 2006

New Board Books

I realized I haven't reviewed any baby board books for a while, and the other day we unpacked a box of new ones from Brighter Minds, so I thought I would talk about a few today. Punkin and Buddy Boy have been helping me break them in and I am going to pick their favorites here.

Hickory Dickory Dock, illustrated by Tammie Lyon, from Penny Candy Press is the first one out of the box. This book has an adorable plush grandfather clock puppet built into the cover. You slip two fingers into his hands in the back of the book and when you clap them together he talks. The pages of the book have a cut out center so as you turn them the clock puppet sticks out of each page. My boys love this book. They are entranced by it and want to hear it over and over again. I wish it were a little longer and included more Mother Goose rhymes to keep the fun going. I am amazed at what cleverness there is in children's books these days, and the combination of a classic rhyme with a battery powered voiced puppet is a winner.

Rainbow Duck by Yvette Lodge, illustrated by Simone Abel is a charming book focusing on color words. The pages are enhanced with fuzzy accents that invite small browsers to explore the pictures with sensitive fingers and find what is red? what is green? what is blue? The duck on the cover is furry and cute. I like how touch, sound and sight work together to engage readers with several senses at once.

Guess Who I Am.. a fold-out animal surprise book, photographs by Phoebe Dunn. This riddle book has fold out pages that open as you read the clues, making giant 16 inch poster revealing the hidden animals. Buddy loves shouting out his guesses as I read the lines "I have yellow feathers...I have webbed feet..." and open the flaps. The photographs of baby farm animals are adorable. We have two other of Phoebe Dunn's books, Farm Animals and The Little Kitten. My boys love them.

Animal Sight Words by PBS Kids is not a book, but a set of 10 giant Touch-and-Learn-Cards. They come in a box with a wipe-off marker. Buddy just loves these cards! He sat right down and got to work practicing writing the words and coloring over the pictures. They are simple three and four letter words like "cow", "pig", "bird". Buddy has writing practice in his daycare and knows most of the letters. He doesn't follow good handwriting practice as I used to teach it though - he refuses to start letters at the top and work down. It frustrates me a bit that he is starting handwriting so young with teachers that give him worksheets but don't teach him the proper sequence and direction for letter writing. As his mother, when I try to correct him of course he resists me and wants to do it his way. I taught first grade for nine years and did countless handwriting lessons so I know how important it is to start with good technique and habits that will build muscle coordination. If it were up to me I wouldn't start him with handwriting practice or worksheets until he was six, but nowadays they start them much younger. One good thing about these letter cards is that they have a cut out pattern of the letters to trace with your finger or pen so you can learn the shape with touch as well as visually. It is also wonderful that they are easily erased to try again. Both of these features are really helpful for young children learning to write. I wish the cards had little arrows and dots showing where to start your pen and which direction to move so that Buddy would know it isn't just me being bossy when I tell him "Always start top - down, left - right". In my experience, learning the right way from the beginning saves years of frustration and poor handwriting. One other improvement is to use a better quality pen. Ours dried out after two days and I had to hunt up another pen for Buddy already. Punkin is so eager to get his hands on this box full of cards and the pen that we have to hide it from him. He also loves to chew on crayons, so I think we have a budding graphic artist in the house. It is really great to have all these new books to explore on our long weekend!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to catch up on your blog, my friend. So many wonderful new books... Now I know who to turn to for books I'll need for an upcoming paper I'm going to prepare for the Children's Lit Association conference.

Anyway... These cards from PBS kids seem to be really good, but better yet is your advice on handwriting. Kelvin's not interested in drawing or writing at all and that worries me a bit sometimes. Of course he's just home with me and I haven't had much time to have him fill out his pre K books (he does have quite a few). So, hearing you say you wouldn't start your son on handwriting until he was 6 is a great relief. I wish I had the energy, discipline, and organizational skills to homeschool him!