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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Sweet Companions

Sitting by the window, I sip my first cup of green tea with soy milk, consciously affirming and promising that the fire-breathing ugly monster in me will not rear its ugly head unpredictably today to bellow at the wee little four-year-old for simply being a willful and energetic four-year-old.

The birds tweet and chirp merrily while gathering worms from our backyard as Oggie guzzles down his first morning bottle and Ana snuggles with D in the back room. Evocative golden voice of M.S. Subbulakshmi suffuses us with the mellifluous rendition of Venkatesha Suprabatham...

...I enjoy this peaceful 5 minutes before Oggie tosses his empty bottle, toddles over to his reading corner, picks out his first book from the collection I've put out for the week, hands it over to me, nestles in my lap as my arms encircle him and hold the book just-so, and we start another busy day in right earnest.

Not too long ago, I was a bit doubtful about oggie and books... looks like it was unwarranted. Oggie has been reading much of Ana's baby books, plus a few new ones. Since I had compiled a book list of sorts, grouped by age-range, at least the ages when I introduced them to Ana, it seemed like a good idea to list Oggie's current favorites here so I can hopefully look back at these with him when he is older.

With my limited experience, relying solely on instincts, I look for a balance between the two classes of books I consider appropriate for ages 0-3 when introducing books to Ana initially, and now to Oggie:
  1. Tactile/sensory touch-and-feel, as well as somewhat interactive push-and-pop/press-button/lift-the-flap/finger-puppet books that allow infants to actively explore and get some form of positive reinforcement to establish cause-and-effect. The following is a short-list of current favorites in this category.

    baby books welsh tactile push-pop, open-the-flap books

    • Pi-Po! (peek-a-boo) books - Amser gwely (Bed Time) and Gwisgo i fyny (Dress Up): These are both touch-and-feel and open-the-flap books in Welsh. Since my fluency in Welsh is barely past the baby-talk phase, these are perfect books for me to read to Oggie and learn in the process (thanks to D). Bright colors with babies and baby-related things on each page make it interesting for Og

    • Push-and-Pop Farm animals: The usual set of farm animals pop up when you push a tab, with short simple text that introduces the corresponding animal sounds.
      On an aside: it is interesting that animal sounds have been standardized here in the US, even if they are not universal - example, pigs say "mee-mee" in some of my old UK publications, whereas they say, "oink-oink" here, neither of which seem to emulate the guttural snorts the pigs in India made when I was little :) Interestingly enough, Oggie makes this exact same guttural snort every time he spies pigs in his books.

    • Crazy Animals: Tap My Nose book which is cute as Oggie turns the pages meticulously and taps the nose on each page, even though it is the same nose that pokes through each animal face; and for some reason, can keep himself entertained with this book for nearly 5-6 minutes at a stretch sometimes, which is a long duration for infants his age to be focused on one thing, imho... Also, this was an impulse buy when Ana was little and I wasn't sure of its merits, but, judging by its popularity and use at home, I think this is a winner; turns out my infant nephew took to it as well when I gave him a copy :)

    • I'm a Little Caterpillar (a finger puppet book): Just like Ana when she was a baby, Oggie seems to just want to suck on the little latex caterpillar puppet poking through the book, but the caterpillar turning to a butterfly on the last page makes this cute for me... "I'm a little caterpillar, just a little caterpillar, One day I will be..." starts the book and each page presents a different animal like bear, bat, lion etc., but says, "No, that's not for me" and then ends with, "A Butterfly! yes, that's what I will be!"

  2. Picture books, with lilting text that correlate well with the illustrations, and are short and easy to read aloud. The following is a short-list of current favorites in this category.

    baby books, picture books, eric carle, dr. seuss

    • Hands Can by Cheryl Willis Hudson: sturdy board book with pictures of kids doing various things like tying shoes, planting seeds with simple text like, "Hands can Catch, Hands can Throw, Hands can plant seeds in a row" has made this one of my favorites to read to Oggie

    • The usual classics: Eric Carle books in boardbook format - viz., Brown Bear, Brown bear; Polar Bear, Polar Bear; Panda Bear, Panda Bear; Very Hungry Caterpillar;
      And the early Dr.Seuss ones like Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You (which used to make Ana smile instantaneously when I start reciting/reading), Hop On Pop, Ten Apples Up on Top
      Goodnight Moon, Nutbrown Hare, Spot books

    • I Spy books by Jean Marzolo, always fun to have and watch them get more out of it as they grow

    • Mommies Say Shh by Patricia Pacolo: Now, this was Nana's gift for Og and it surprised me how he took to it. He couldn't get enough of it. He would study each page, not letting me turn them in a hurry, pointing to each of the many geese or chickens on the page, expectantly looking for me to say the corresponding sounds... the illustrations have an understated whimsical quality to them showing kids running about doing the various activities that keep a farm working.

    • Geiriau 100 cyntaf First 100 words, in Welsh: The English version is popular here, it is the same format and pretty much same pictures, but, teaches the words in Welsh, which again, is a great book for me to expand my vocabulary while reading to Oggie and Ana.

I am sure I'll be adding a few more books at each stage as he grows, letting him guide me with his sense of wonder and discovery, while letting my instincts continue to pick books that I feel might provide an enriching experience, both for him and me...

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At 12:21 PM, Blogger Lavs said...

How I wish these books were available in India and Lb would get interested in them?
Some strange wishes i have, sigh!

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

HI lavs, Long time... looks like boardbooks are emerging in India - my mom said she found one small boardbook for "Arichuvadi" - tamil alphabet!

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Lavs said...

when you write about these lovely books..more than reading it to LB, i want to read them myself..the covers look so inviting you see:)

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

Lavs, you are so funny! I was thinking the same thing - I never had any baby books, and my parents didn't read to me in those days - I wonder if I missed out or they did?! :)


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