I've been giving some thought of late to ways to promote my toddler daughter's literacy that go beyond books (of course we spend lots of time reading books, too!). Here a couple of non-book things that we've been enjoying at my house:
We received (for review) several CDs by Susie Tallman and friends from Rock Me Baby Records. We have Children's Songs: A Collection of Childhood Favorites, Classic Nursery Rhymes, and Child's Christmas. Baby Bookworm and I quite like them, especially Children's Songs. Here's what I like about them:
- Snappy tunes, including some that I remember from childhood music class at school, and some that are new to me (one does get tired of the same old children's songs). The songs are generally quite short, so that there's a lot of variety on each CD (up to 38 different songs). A number of the songs now flit around my head on a regular basis.
- I like Tallman's voice more the more I listen to it. There's also a reasonable mix of other voices on the CDs to keep things interesting, including children's voices. The Christmas CD includes children telling Christmas-themed jokes between songs, which is extra fun. I found the Christmas CD the hardest one to adjust to, because there were a lot of songs that I knew, but was used to hearing from different voices. But it grew on me. The other two I liked out of the box.
- It's easy to understand and repeat the words to all of the songs. This is what makes listening to these CDs, to me, a literacy-building activity. While we certainly enjoy reading books, it's also a nice change to listen to songs like BINGO and Five Little Speckled Frogs. The latter builds counting skills, and we have fun leaping off a virtual log along with the frogs.
We also received a bunch of magazines for consideration from Cricket. Baby Bookworm likes Babybug, which is a small, square magazine, about the same size as a board book, aimed at kids up to age 3. Although it's softcover, the pages are thick, like cardboard, so that it feels closer to a board book than a magazine. Which makes it a nice bridge between books and magazines. Each issue includes little stories and poems/songs. I found the stories about Kim and Carrots that are in each issue a bit too reminiscent of the old "Fun with Dick and Jane" variety of children's literature. But some of the poems were fun. And Baby Bookworm enjoys holding these and turning the pages.
We're not quite ready for Ladybug in our house yet (ages 3-6). Ladybug looks more like a real magazine, and has a mix of stories meant for kids to read themselves (again, those could have been more interesting, I thought) and stories that adults would most likely read to the kids (these were better). There are also songs, cartoons, poems, factoids, games, etc. After Ladybug comes Spider (ages 6-9), and Cricket (ages 9-14), along with Ask (focusing on arts and sciences for 6-9) and Click (science and nature for 3-6 year olds). All of the magazines offer a nice range of activities, and a range of word density between different items. I think that the latter is important because different aspects of each issue will be accessible/intriguing to different kids.
In general, I like the idea that as I sit down to flip through my own magazines, my daughter can sit next to me reading hers. Right now she's pretty content to flip through my issues of The Horn Book. (What can I say? She has good taste, and the magazine is an appealing size). But as she gets older, I like that Carus Publishing, the Cricket magazine people, have magazines that will suit her at every age range and interest level.
I must also confess that Baby Bookworm (21 months old) is already addicted to the iPad. On a recent cross-country trip, I installed a few (mostly book-related) apps, in the hope of keeping her busy on the plane. Now whenever she sees the iPad she wants to play with it (making it a bit difficult for me to read any books on it myself, but that's another story). She likes the mere fact that she can touch the screen and make things happen. But the apps that she's enjoying the most (out of the very small set that I've installed) are:
I'm still trying to minimize her screen time, especially until she turns two. But I do think that these apps have some educational value for her, and that she gets more out of them than she would sitting in front of a television set. Any other apps that you all would recommend for a near 2-year-old? (Of course I'm planning to go through the Cybils shortlist in the app category, too, to see if any work for our needed age range).
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