15 June 2012, by Tan Yi Lin
I have a confession to make:
I HAVE AN ONLINE SHOPPING ADDICTION.
I can’t stop shopping for books for Coco. Prior to discovering online bookstores, my Internet shopping habits were confined to maternity and nursing wear only. Before getting pregnant, I wasn’t even a fan of buying clothes online as I preferred to try them on before making my purchase. But when I got too huge for normal clothes and didn’t want to splurge on expensive maternity wear in the stores, I got desperate and turned to the Internet.
Shopping for books online is ridiculously easy. I already have an idea of the books that I want to get through recommendations from parenting websites or through word of mouth. I search for the title on The Book Depository website, check the price and add it to my “shopping basket”. Unlike clothes, there’s no need to worry about sizing, material or quality. EASY!
My addiction is fuelled by Coco’s interest in books. I mentioned before that she chooses books over toys. I think it’s because books present new and different content with every flip of a page, which she can manage independently.
To date, I have purchased close to 50 books online, starting even before she was born. If we add the books given by friends and family, I think Coco’s library, spread over two IKEA boxes, totals at about 60 books.
Of course, we could borrow books from the library instead of buying them. But it takes a lot more effort to actually GO to the library compared to clicking on a computer in the comfort of home, having books delivered to your doorstep and not having to return them! We figured that they have been quite a good investment to date because Coco reads almost all of them OVER and OVER again.
In this entry, I would like to share some of my and Coco’s personal reading favourites, in hope that it would inspire and be of use to fellow parents looking for good reads for infants.
One of the first books that we got for her was The Snail and The Whale.
Okay, I admit, maybe it was more for me than her — I loved the story about a curious snail with a bad case of wanderlust and her globetrotting adventures on the tail of a whale. It was just like how I HAD to embark on a year-long backpacking trip and how blessed I am to have my equivalent of a whale (tee hee) come with me.
The heartwarming story, galloping rhymes and adorable illustrations got me hooked and soon, I was on a rampage for other books Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler.
We went on to get Tiddler, Monkey Puzzle, A Squash And A Squeeze and Room On A Broom, which made for great bedtime reading to my tummy.
However, these titles have spent a good part of the past ten months in storage. I realised that the content is more suitable for older children as the books are too wordy and the stories too long to hold the attention of young infants. Also, the repetitive phrases in the story are more suited for children who can speak, so that they can participate in the storytelling by chiming “Tiddler’s late!” or “Oh Wise Old Man, won’t you help me please?” at the appropriate instances.
Over time, I’ve learned how to choose books more wisely that will add to Coco’s enjoyment. It also saves me from getting frustrated when she doesn’t have the patience to sit through a story that’s too long for babies her age.
Another lesson that I’ve learnt is to get BOARD BOOKS only. Babies love the rustle of paper and cannot tell the difference between waste paper that they are allowed to crush, and pages of books that they must learn to love and respect. However, board books make for good chewing, which is a bad habit of Coco’s that I’m trying to curb.
Here are some of her favourites:
1. Flash cards
To stimulate her development in the early weeks after her birth, we showed her simple black and white flash cards depicting faces, animals, objects or simply intriguing patterns. In addition to a set of Wee Gallery cards that was a gift from our friends, we also printed flash cards that were available for free from the Internet.
2. Black and White (and Red) by Tana Hoban
Newborn have poor eyesight so high contrast colours appear the clearest to them. Black and white are the first colours that they recognise, followed by red. This series of simple, picture books kept her entertained. The fact that they didn’t have words encouraged conversation about the pictures, as opposed to reading, so my caregivers could “read” the books to her in Mandarin too.
3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This classic was given to us by a friend. I’m amazed that such a simple story can teach so many concepts such as metamorphosis, day and night, little and big, days of the week, colours, types of fruit, numbers and types of food. It’s great for your little one’s vocabulary too.
4. Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle
The large pictures, beautiful artwork and singsong rhyme makes this a daily favourite. Now that Coco is older and likes to flip the pages herself, we sometimes just use the book as animal flash cards instead of reading the text. We’ve since bought the other books in the series i.e. Polar Bear, Polar Bear (wild animals), Panda Bear, Panda Bear (zoo animals) and Baby Bear, Baby Bear.
I got this because Coco had a beloved Panda companion when she was smaller. This was when I realised that she loved lifting the flaps to see what’s hidden under them, so I went on to order all the Maisy lift-the-flap titles that were available in board book format.
The simple text and child-friendly illustrations make it easy for infants to digest the content and Coco can now point accordingly when you ask her, “Where’s the fish?”, “Where’s the bird”?
6. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
Dear Zoo and the other books by the same author offer short, simple, delightful reads and fun lift-the-flap action.
I confess that I bought this because I LOVE FISH and I think it’s the most beautifully illustrated book that we have. Coco is a fish fan and loves it too okay!
I picked this up after my friend said that it was his son’s favourite book. It’s confirmed — Coco has a soft spot for penguins too.
Just like its counterparts by Julia Donaldson, One Mole Digging is a hilarious read with silly rhymes and illustrations of snakes with garden rakes and doves in gardening gloves. Sharing A Shell is a tad too advanced for Coco, but she likes scratching at the sparkly glitter in the book!
10. Star Wars ABC
This, was obviously Dannie’s choice of a GREAT story book. What better way to teach Coco her ABC than through the use of the Force?
Of course, no child’s first library would be complete without a book on Nursery Rhymes. Coco likes Humpty Dumpty especially and always points at his bald egg head and laughs out loud.
The Book Depository carries CDs in addition to books and I bought one that had the classic Wheels On The Bus song, along with other children songs. Coco’s caught on to the concept of music and dance, and holds both arms up in air and sways around when we play the songs.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown has been a classic since it was first published in the 1970s! I didn’t think it looked particularly interesting or attractive but decided to get it after fellow parents raved about it. However, Coco can’t seem to appreciate it yet and flips through the pages very impatiently or shuts the book altogether.
On the (Credit) Cards
I’ve just placed another order for books. These include Where Is Baby’s Belly Button by Karen Katz, which I thought would be suitable now that Coco is more aware of the parts of her body.
I’ve also placed an order for Secret Seahorse by Stella Blackstone (yes, yet ANOTHER marine-themed picture book).
While it’s for readers age 3 to 6 years, I caved in to the description of impressive illustrations “prepared in antique fabrics and felt with sequins, buttons, beads and assorted bric-a-brac” where “buttons and sequins become fish eyes and scales, and there are wonderful jelly fish made from lace and brocade”. SWOON! Plus, there is a hide-and-seek game whereby kids can search for the secret seahorse hidden on every page. I can’t wait for it to arrive!
Sometimes, I buy books simply because they are inexpensive. Just like this one — Just One More Swim by Caroline Pitcher — that was going for $4! Plus, it sounds just like what Coco, the water-loving monster, would say.
I’m planning to get some books by Sandra Boynton, which I have heard so much about. Also, I would love to get the Peter and Jane series by Ladybird Books. Remember those? They don’t seem to be available online but I heard that you can get them at Popular bookstore.
I also want to get Coco some Chinese books. Coco gets Chinese immersion every weekday afternoon when my aunt and uncle come over to look after her. She responds when called by her Chinese name (Kaixin), points to the fan when asked where the “feng shan” is, and attempts to operate the water tap when instructed in Mandarin. It would be nice if I could get some Chinese books for them to read to her.
Can anybody recommend suitable Chinese books for 10 month old babies?
If anyone out there knows of any other good titles, please feel free to share by leaving a comment.
Thanks and Happy Reading!