On toddlers and books

When I started my Facebook page, I had every intention of being totally regular. I promised myself I would write more, and try to write better, and for a while (ummm, two months?) I did keep the promise. What I hadn’t taken into account was the fact that between the time I started the page and now, baby girl has discovered the joys of being vertical instead of horizontal and with her wanting to walk ALL the time, everything gets done in toddler pace. Which means the shopping trip that had previously taken me all of 30 minutes now takes an hour and a half because baby girl insists on walking all the way, and loves to chase after all the dogs and birds she sees. She’s always been a very curious baby, but combined with her new found independence it basically means sitting down on the laptop and typing while she’s awake is quite impossible. Her near obsessive fascination with the iPad and the iPhone also means all her waking hours I keep gadgets hidden for fear of starting another infamous tantrum. And well, when she is sleeping, I let myself indulge in the guilty pleasure of catching up on all the episodes of the Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory that I had missed, instead of doing anything constructive. I mean, one does need some unwinding after a whole day of chasing a toddler with seemingly limitless energy.

And in case you hadn’t missed me at all. Oh well, now you know I was gone for a bit. And I am back. At least until she gets bored of the ABC app on the iPad she is playing with.

Speaking of iPads and iPhones and gadgets in general, I always thought I would be one of those Moms who would never let her daughter get used to gadgets. Obviously, that went down the drain the moment she started knowing how to swipe the phone to reach “her” apps (and her favorite YouTube, oh dear lord) and then “play” with them. It didn’t take me long to realize that this was a slippery slope. One day she is “playing” with the apps on my phone, and the next she is one of those kids who spot a phone in any room and zone out everyone else while staring at the screen. Which is why, I decided to try nip it in the bud, and gently steer her to the world of books.

In came amazon.com, and hours of going through reviews and bestseller lists to find the perfect ones. Since I am not sending her to playschool until she is at least 3 years old, I wanted books that’ll help me provide the foundation that she would have otherwise gotten from playschools. So I looked for books that would “teach” the alphabet, numbers and colours. She also loves animal sounds, so I looked for books that had animals in them. But the most fun part was looking for books that are funny and rhythmic and are good for reading aloud. I am not ashamed to admit I thoroughly enjoyed poring through the pages that the “Quick Look” button let me.

I ended up ordering:

LMNO Peas and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom for the alphabet

123 Peas and Counting Kisses for numbers (the latter because it combines my two favorite things: reading to baby girl and popping kisses to her)

Blue Hat Green Hat for colours

The Very Hungry Caterpillar because well, it is a classic

Llama Llama I love you because I love the Llama Llama rhymes (my top choice was Llama Llama Red Pajama, but the board book isn’t available until May 2015 and my little girl is not ready for paperbacks yet)

Gossie because the illustrations are beautiful and the story is super cute

Head, Shoulder Knees and Toes because it is one of her favorite sing alongs, and she’s starting to learn the body parts

Moo Ba La La La and Little Blue Truck for the animal sounds and almost rap-like rhythm in the book.

But the real reason, the sole reason I am writing this post is because of the book that is now my favorite: Giraffes Can’t Dance.

When the shipment arrived, I was way more excited than baby girl (who actually loved playing with the box, typical to her age) and almost lingered over the books, caressing the fresh pages and marveling at the glossy illustrations. I was near emotional, thinking about how this would be baby girl’s first step into the exciting world of books, and just how much fun I hoped to have with her as we read book after book during long lazy afternoons. I read the books and smiled, and smiled some more, but I am so glad I saved the best for the last.

Storywise, Giraffes Can’t Dance is no more and no less than what you expect out of a children’s book, about a giraffe named Gerald who is laughed at by the other animals in the jungle for not being able to dance, but who then later finds his tune and turns into a graceful dancer. The illustrations are amazing, with colours bursting from each page, but what made me fall in love with it can be summed up in two lines,

“But sometimes when you’re different

you just need a different song”

Being a square peg in a world of round holes myself, I guess the simplicity of the message struck really close to my heart. I just HAD to call up my sister, and read the book aloud to her, and after rereading it for the umpteenth time I was still awestruck at how a children’s book could touch me that much.

Oh well, enough gushing about the book already. So far the books have been a major hit, with 123 Peas being a favorite (the peas are so darn cute!) and I love it when she walks to her book shelf, picks out the book, brings it to me and sits on my lap for me to read it out to her. I also love the fact that of all the books, she chose the one with numbers, because the very first book I had loved was Maths With Mummy, and come on, with a name that means numbers, it was destined that my life as well as my daughter’s, would be entwined with them.

So here’s to reading and books! Here’s to raising a bookworm, just like her Mom!

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