At 16 months, Baby Bee loves books.
Not just her books, but any books – mine, the books at La Leche League meetings, magazines, lists, even leaflets through the letterbox. We’ve had to stop going to music club at the library because all Bee wants to do is climb behind the leader and pull all the books off the shelf! But if I’m honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was an obsessive reader as a child, and still am – although if I could change one thing about being a parent, it would be never having the time to really lose myself in a good book.
We want to encourage Bee’s love of books, so always have them available to her, and let her play with any magazines (and junk mail leaflets) we’ve finished with. I rotate Bee’s books (see Autumn’s selection here) and try to supplement them with complimentary toys to help her make links and connections between images and physical objects. If I can, I’ll take this connection one step further by introducing her to the real thing. The first book in Bee’s Christmas collection worked out really well.
That’s Not My Reindeer by Usborne
I think all toddlers love this series of books. We’ve never owned one before, although Bee is rather fond of a copy of That’s Not My Owl found at playgroup. The repeating text and tactile pages make them so appealing. Bee is very impatient and often skips straight to the end of this book, caressing the reindeer’s shiny, squishy, red nose.
Accompanying the book is a tiny Jellycat reindeer I found in the charity shop. Bee’s Christmas shelves also have another soft toy reindeer, a reindeer finger puppet, and a reindeer antler headband. Daddy and I also sing Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer to her whenever she puts the antlers on. Grouping them like this reinforces the links between them, and helps Bee notice how things join together. Luckily, we were able to take the reindeer theme one step further recently, when we introduced her to a real-life reindeer during our trip to Center Parcs.
Me by Emma Dodd
This is my favourite book from this months selection. The story is beautiful and reminds me each time we read it how big the world must seem to a small child. It’s another book with repeating phrases. Simple, rhythmical and repetitive text is a key factor in what I look for when choosing books for Bee. Young children need to be able to anticipate and almost come to learn what happens in the story to really engage. It’s the reason they enjoy nursery rhymes and why they’ll often repeat the same play over and over again.
Little penguin was one of Bee’s Christmas presents last year, and I’ve also found a really big penguin in amongst our decorations, so Bee can hold the big and small penguins in her hands, exploring the different sizes, as well as see them in the book.
Snowman, Christmas and Who’s Hiding with Penguin?
All gifts from Nanna, these three books are lovely additions to our Christmas book basket. Snowman and Christmas illustrate key images from the festive season, with simple one or two-word descriptions. Who’s Hiding with Penguin is a really chunky, shaped page book. A part of each animals peeps out giving a clue as to its identity. It’s not specifically a Christmas book, but all the animals are snow-dwellers, and no doubt we will be reaching for it again when we want to explore Arctic and Antarctic animals.
Guess Who? Christmas by Christina Goodings
All Autumn I’ve been searching for a nativity board book. All the ones I found seemed a little too complex, with no room for rhymes or repetition. I was over the moon when I found this in a charity shop. It’s a lift the flap book that simply introduces each of the main characters and key locations and images. Starting with Mary and the donkey, through to Bethlehem, the star and baby Jesus. Bee loves lifting the flaps to reveal each picture and is surprisingly careful with them. Nanna found the donkey at her church sale and it’s a perfect companion.
I’m really glad we have a donkey on Bee’s Christmas shelves. Donkeys are my favourite animal and Little Donkey my favourite children’s Christmas carol. I always remember my mum and dad playing it every year; Nina and Frederick singing, Christmas lights twinkling and the comforting crackle of vinyl.