Perfect gifts

My kids were given two amazing gifts in the last couple of weeks.

Actually, they were given a lot of amazing gifts because my parents just got back from six weeks of travel and had to buy an extra suitcase to bring home all of the gifts they bought for various family members!

But two stand out as so awesome that I have to share them.

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson

The first was not part of their grandparental haul. It was a gift from my brother and his fiancee. My brother is a primary school teacher and he had read this book at school and knew I would love it for the kids.

He was right.

The book has a fantastic message and is told in a way that makes it simple and easy for children to understand. It starts by saying that if you plant a carrot seed or a lettuce seed, a carrot or a lettuce will grow. It then tells of the trouble that can be caused by sowing the seeds of selfishness, and of the rewards that can come from sowing seeds of kindness.

Even with such an excellent story, the real hero of the book is the pictures. They are just exquisite and truly make this book one to cherish. The animal characters are so sweet and you can really see all the emotions on their faces.

I can see why a school teacher was drawn to this book. My children were equally taken by it.

Thanks Uncle M and Aunty S!

Classical Baby:I’m Grown Up Now:The Poetry Show

The second was from the very generous grandparents. This part of the loot was given with some level of dismissiveness. They saw it, it was cheap, they knew I’d love it. They didn’t think it would be as exciting as the other gifts. They were wrong. This may not be a pricey gift, but it is truly a jewel.

We watched it together the very first night. Now, Pickles is not the sit still and watch something type. His idea of watching television usually involves running around and around in a circle, or doing somersaults, or climbing on the couch. But for this he sat still for the whole 30 minute run time. The only time that he moved was to run and get his copy of The Owl and the Pussycat when it came on so that he could “read along”.

There are four elements that make this dvd pure magic.

The first is obviously the poems themselves. The poetry chosen is perfect introductory poetry. It is simple enough to be enjoyed by the youngest audience. Yet, the poems chosen are absolute classics by the likes of Frost, Shakespeare, and (inevitably) Lear. They are wonderful, wonderful poems.

Secondly, the actors (including John Lithgow, Andy Garcia, Gwyneth Paltrow and Susan Sarandon) chosen to read the poems have beautiful reading voices and read the poems with just the right intonation and rhythm. You can really tell that they love the poetry that they are reading.

Thirdly, the animations. The animations are funny, beautiful, and soothing in equal parts. They work to hold the attention of the little viewer, while at the same time calming them. Pickles had a much smoother than usual transition to bedtime after watching this.

Finally, there are children interviewed about the poems and about poetry more generally. This is probably my favourite part of the dvd. The children are just gorgeous and their enthusiasm for the poetry is simply infectious. I think it’s great for kids to see other kids who enjoy poetry like this.

The whole dvd is just sublime. It was a treasure of a find, and I will be buying more copies to give as presents. If you have a little person, or know a little person, I highly recommend this as a Christmas gift.

Thanks Nanny and Papa!

You can find them at Amazon through the affiliate links below:

    

Facebooktwitterpinterest

6 Tips for Reading to Babies

Reading to babies can seem silly at times. When a baby is not yet talking, you might wonder if they are able to take anything in. It might feel like a waste of time. Yet, there is a lot of literature that says that reading to babies is crucial for many aspects of their development.

Here are some tips to optimise your reading for your baby’s development and enjoyment.

1. Choose books with no words

It may seem counter-intuitive but, in terms of aiding language development, choosing books without words is a great way to go. This is largely because of your own reading behaviour. When you are reading from set text, you can get stuck just reading through the book without taking the time to stop, point things out, discuss what is happening, and relate the story back to your child’s own experiences. With wordless books, you are much more likely to have an active, engaged experience.

2. When a book has words, steer away from the text

There are lots of great books for children with interesting stories and clever rhymes. Great children’s books are also well designed with repetition and rich vocabulary to help developing brains. So, of course, it is useful to read the text. As adults, that’s what we’re programmed to do so it’s probably inevitable that we’ll read exactly what the words say at least the first time around.

Once you get to the second, or third, or four hundredth read through it is a great idea to steer away from the text. Pretend that there are no words and tell your own story.

3. Make your reading interactive

Use the book as a vehicle for talking about things in your baby’s life. For instance, if there is a dog in the book you could talk about your own dog, or a dog you saw at the park. Point things out in the pictures and name the things that you see. If your baby is at an age where he or she can point to things, ask them if they can point to the tree, or the bird, or the rainbow.

A great way of making your reading time interactive is to have some books that you have made yourself. So, you could have a book that just has the faces of people you know. Then you can point to grandma, and talk about how she looks happy. Point to her eyes and nose and mouth. Or point to daddy and talk about his red shirt. Talk about something you did with daddy today. All of these things helps your baby to make connections between words and the world around them.

4. Only read when your baby is interested

When you’ve been told that you should read to your child for at least ten minutes every day, it may be tempting to get through that time, or at least through one book, even if your child is fussing or looking away. However, forcing a child to stay on your lap while you continue to read is not beneficial for development and can actually be detrimental as the child begins to associate negative experiences with reading.

5. Choose books you both enjoy

When choosing books, think about books that you will enjoy reading, as well as books that your child will enjoy listening to. Babies can pick up on attitudes and emotions. If you are happy, enthusiastic, and engaged in the reading yourself, your baby is much more likely to have a positive experience. For very young babies, you can even try just reading them whatever you happen to be reading yourself. They will benefit from hearing your voice, and the language. The content isn’t as important as the attitude.

6. Read early and often

It’s never too early to read to your children. Try and get into the habit of reading to them everyday, from as early in their life as possible. Not only will you be fostering a love of reading and enhancing their cognitive development, but you will also be nurturing your own bond with them as you share special times with books.

Did you read to your babies? What are your favourite books for babies?

Happy Mama Happy Baby

Share this:

Facebooktwitterpinterest