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Sandbox Book Club Recommendation #5
In My Tree and In My Pond by Sara Gillingham
Since I shared with you all recently that Jax is starting to read at a rather young age (unexpected, let me assure you), I had so much feedback, including interested moms who wanted to know what it was that I was doing right. Well, other than reading to my kids for at least an hour a day and watching (mostly) educational television, I'm not really sure. I know that Jax has always loved to read; even at Em's age, younger than one year old, he would sit and read for an hour at a time. He has always loved books and learning. He enjoys playing or reading quietly. He's going to grow up to be as big a dork as his mommy some day if he keeps this up!
My only advice is keep reading to your kids, and keep varying your reading material. When I started these book recommendations, I stated that Jax and Em have a library of over 130 books, and I wasn't exaggerating. Although kids love repetition and routine, they also love to learn new things and to acquire new skills. They can't do that reading the same books over and over again. Their vocabulary will grow, their grasp of abstract concepts will happen more naturally, and their grammar will improve with a diverse library at their fingertips. Of course, not everyone has the money or inclination to spend that much time buying books, but going to the library weekly costs nothing and your kids gain so much. Exposure is key, and variety is going to keep everyone's interest peaked.
Em was not a natural reader, although in a match against wills with her mommy over whether or not she would learn to like reading, Mommy won. Mostly because I would have never backed down, but also because I was flexible. She only has certain times of day when she likes to read, usually right after waking up. There is no point in trying to read to a cranky, tired, or hungry baby or toddler. No one wins. Also, I learned quickly to read about what interests her right now, and at ten months, you may wonder that she has a interests, but of course she does. She loves peek-a-boo, so we read lift-the-flap books. She loves looking at herself in the mirror so she loves books with reflectors and pictures of other babies. She wants to touch everything so books with different textures interest her. She may not have her own library card, but she has a point of view (and she isn't afraid to share it!). That is why I love these books, by Sara Gillingham.
In My Tree, In My Nest, In My Den, In My Pond... you get the idea. There are so many different types of animal homes that are chronicled in these books. Gillingham describes what happens inside each animal's home--a tree, a nest, a den, a pond, a meadow, etc. She uses bright patterns and pictures as well as great descriptive language to enhance what are pretty simple phrases throughout the story. But the real reason kids, especially young ones like Em, love these books is because they come with their own puppet.
See how the owl pops out of the front of the book? That's because he's a finger puppet, and there's a hole in the back for the reader to slip his finger into. Then owl or fish or bear or bunny bounce around throughout the story, captivating young readers and tricking them into reading a book that maybe wouldn't hold their interest if it was just words. These books are great for your finicky readers, who don't stand a chance against a book that moves and wiggles and gives kisses (well, that's what our puppets do).
My favorite part of the books is how they all wind up happy and safe at home with their family at the end. Jax always points out the Mommy, Daddy, and Baby and usually snuggles the puppet. Ends the book on a good note.
I think I'm going to get Em a copy of In My Meadow for Easter to go along with the bunny theme. I'm sure I won't be disappointed! Neither will you if you pick up any of these engaging stories.
And don't forget to check out past recommendations!