Babies Touching Books… with Bunnies

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When I first started facilitating the Books for Babies program, I was struck by the thought, “Wow, there are a lot of board books about bunnies.” And if the combination of books, babies, and bunnies rings any bells for you, there is a good chance you’re thinking of Dorothy Kunhardt’s Pat the Bunny, which has been in print since 1940 and is one of the best selling children’s books of all time.

Pat-the-BunnyPat the Bunny was actually one of the first interactive books for children. Instead of telling a story, it is more of a collection of things you can do with your toddler. You can try on mommy’s ring by putting your finger through a hole in the page, look into a mirror, flip through a smaller book inside the book, and of course, pat the bunny’s (fake) fur. This also makes it one of the first “touch and feel” books.

Fast-forward 75 years and there are a lot of touch and feel books for children, and a lot of them feature bunnies. I won’t try to explain all the bunnies, but there are good reasons why these interactive touch and feel books are so popular with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Bunny_book1.  Babies and toddlers are busy exploring and learning about the world around them, and many things are not as smooth as the pages of a book. The added dimension of texture in a touch and feel book helps our little ones connect what they are seeing in the book with things they have discovered around the house, or on any trips you have taken together outside the home. Babies around 4 – 6 months old are especially drawn to things they can distinguish by touch (and taste) because their vision started out quite blurry. The more things they feel, the easier it is for them to understand the difference between textures, which makes things easier to recognize by touch.

2.  Babies and toddlers find these books so engaging because they are learning to control the fine movements of their hands and fingers. This might not sound very exciting, but if you can remember the excitement of learning a musical instrument, or the satisfaction of getting better at a sport, think of how satisfying it must be to go from near-random flailing to actually willing your fingers to explore something that catches your eye.

3.  While our tiny human friends are busy exploring their environments, they have an easier time remembering and identifying things they can associate with more than one of their senses. So if you are sharing a book with your child that features an actually fuzzy bunny, they get to see the bunny, hear you talk about the bunny, and also feel how soft the bunny is.

Sensory exploration is an important part of child development. So as gimmicky as these books might appear, they offer quite a range of experiences to growing children, and even when they enter school, many kids will still gravitate towards the books that offer them something different to touch. This bias is quite strong in young children and for good reason.

 

Books for Babies program schedule:

http://www.famlit.ca/programs_and_projects/programs/babies.shtml

hashtag: #books_for_babies

Did You Know Some Children’s Books Can Be Dangerous?

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A visit by the Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus is not the only service offered by our program. At each visit, a Legacy Library containing approximately 50 books is presented to our community partners. The Legacy Library is a mix of books for preschool children, with an emphasis on Canadian authors and a portion of Aboriginal stories.

Each year, the Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus leaves over 5,000 books in communities across Alberta. In addition to all the other criteria for choosing quality children’s books, safety is an important consideration. Since books are not classified as toys, they don’t have the same safety regulations. Following are some hazards we watch out for:

  • Books for babies and toddlers might have choking hazards. Books for young children are made to be so entertaining that sometimes the safety of its pieces is not considered in the design. Any pieces small enough to fit through a paper towel tube are a choking hazard. These pieces are usually fastened to the page with glue that may be toxic, so it’s doubly important to ensure they are securely stuck to the page. Always monitor the child closely if playing with a book of this design.
  • Some books might have lower quality binding and pages. If you can easily pull apart a book at the seams, or take apart the layers of cardboard in a board book page with your fingernails, so can babies.
  • Some books that teach textures will have a fuzzy fabric attached, often on the cover. Don’t be afraid to pinch at the fuzzy material to ensure that it won’t come off and present a hazard, as is often the case.
  • Bath books can be a fun way to introduce reading to a child, but they are often filled with toxic materials. Before each use, check them over for any punctures or tears. If there are any, throw the book away. Repairs might not hold, and the chemicals from any glue or tape used could also be toxic or pose a choking hazard.
  • When buying, consider how easily the book can be cleaned. Books can become very grimy, and little ones want to chew on the books more than anything else. If you can’t clean the book, not only can it grow bacteria but also toxic mould.
  • One more thing to consider is the edges of the book. Are they sharp, or nicely rounded? If the edges are sharp, babies can cut their gums.

Shopping for books with safety in mind may seem a little daunting, but it’s worth the extra time. If you happen to have some books in the house that don’t pass the test, there is no need to throw them out—unless they’re toxic—just be sure to keep them out of the hands of your little ones.

Learn about book safety and more by attending one of our parent workshops, another service we provide. The C.O.W. Bus facilitators will discuss a variety of early literacy topics. If you would like to arrange a C.O.W. Bus visit to your Alberta community, please call the Centre for Family Literacy at 780.421.7323.

2014 C.O.W. Bus schedule 2015 schedule coming soon!

Make a donation to the Legacy Library

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