Storytelling with babies and very young children

Ever since the first little Story Seekers-shaped nugget lodged itself in my brain, I’ve stuck wholeheartedly with the belief that reading is something that can be enjoyed from the very youngest age and that sharing books together is a wonderful experience that will hopefully set the foundations for a lifetime of reading for pleasure.

Despite this, when it comes to actually thinking about how regular storytelling sessions with babies and tiny children might work in REAL LIFE, I’ll admit to sometimes feeling a little stumped.

I feel as though it *can* work and *should* work, but when I consider the practicalities of reading with a group of babies I realise that there’ll be a lot more to take into account than the sessions for pre-school age children.  Perhaps it’s just that I’m used to working with larger groups of slightly older children, whereas the only real experience I have with babies is reading to C and H.

Anyway, regardless of how I overcome issues like finding suitably warm rooms that have little nooks for feeding and comforting little ones when they’re upset, or how to provide options for parents to hold their child or put them down on some sort of safe mat or baby support, I know that the key to it all will be using books that capture the attention and imagination of little Story Seekers and their parents.

Without doubt, one such book will be, ‘Lost and Found!‘, by Beth Harwood, with graphics by Emma Dodd and Mike Jolley.  This book is part of the ‘Amazing Baby’ range from the wondrous folk at Templar.

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Understandably, the ‘plot’ is pretty simple, but it’s still engaging enough to be great fun to read out loud.  It’s beautifully made and the chunky pages will stand up to years of ‘love and care’ 😉

Each page features an item that is lost and the child (with assistance if necessary) can then use the slider to reveal where the object has been hiding.

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As I mentioned in another post recently, both my boys love interactive books and even though H is enjoying more complex stories when he reads with us, when he chooses books to ‘read’ independently he will often go for the ones with features that encourage him to ‘use his hands’, as it were.

The design and illustration of this book are perfectly suited to very young children, with unfussy backgrounds, bright colours and bold outlines.  My vision for the way Story Seekers will work for the baby sessions is that each child will have a copy of the book we’re using to handle themselves and I can already imagine the delighted looks on their faces when I share out books like this for them to investigate!

Even though it’ll be a year or two before I can get Story Seekers going properly, I’m really pleased in the meantime to be supporting Oxfam by doing storytelling sessions at my local secondhand bookshop.  My session with 0-2 year olds isn’t until April, but I’ll definitely be seeking out more of the Amazing Baby range to use with the littlest ones that attend.

While I’m on the subject, I couldn’t resist sharing C and H’s very first book.  Well, technically not their first as I read to them both from the moment I found out I was pregnant (‘Peepo‘ and ‘Each Peach Pear Plum‘ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg were firm favourites and my renditions of ‘Tiddler: The story-telling fish‘, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler always seemed to result in delighted kicking fits as well), but this was the first book that they both handled themselves.

Faces‘, by John Fordham (published by Macmillan)

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I appreciate that this a somewhat unusual shot, but I was doing my best (with my inferior photographic skills) to stop the reflection of the flash in the mirror on the front (yep, that’s what that circle is!) from taking over the whole shot.  The mirror was a huge hit with C and H, who would linger for yonks admiring themselves before delving further in.

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There are only three pages, but they contain those black and white images and patterns that transfix babies.  Contained within the squidgy cloth pages are squeaking things and rustling things that provide a real treat for tiny little fingers, and maybe even toes!  The handy yellow strap allows you to attach the book to a buggy or car seat and as ‘buggy books’ (there are quite a few available) have been so successful for us, I’d highly recommend them for others with tinies.

Finally, I have been following the launch of the Read It Mummies And Daddies 2013 campaign, which was unleashed upon the world in a blaze of glory last week by fellow book blogger @readitdaddy.  In a nutshell, it is a call to arms to all of us to do everything we can to help share our love for children’s books, as well as our passion for reading, with as many people as possible.

Given that this post is about books that families can share right from the very first moment, I thought it would be a suitable to place to formally offer my commitment to this awesome initiative and to support readitdaddy’s pledges:

“For the entire year of 2013, as the basis of our campaign we pledge to: 
  • Review and talk about children’s picture books, apps, comics and other great ways of introducing books to kids and spread the word far and wide.
  • Liaise with and raise the profile of the various organisations and agencies (such as the excellent Booktrust Bookstart Programme) who are working hard to encourage children and parents to get involved with and read more books.
  • Increase our syndication, and also pen original editorial articles on the subject on guest blog spots.
  • Talk (and Tweet) to and liaise with parents, bloggers, publishers, authors, illustrators, librarians, teachers and organisations already committed to encouraging children’s interest in books and add our support to what they’re doing.
  • Examine all the ways that reading, telling stories, drawing, scribbling and making can enhance a child’s quality of life from a very early age with editorials and news articles.”

(Source: http://readitdaddy.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/readitdaddys-big-campaign-for-2013-get.html )

Please get in touch if you’d like to be involved!

TTFN

Disclaimer:  I received my copy of ‘Lost and Found!’ from the publisher.  I was not asked to write this post, nor was I given any money for doing so, and the review represents my own honest opinion.

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3 comments

  1. You have so ‘got’ what we’re trying to do, and I’m so happy that you’re backing the campaign. You’ve summed it up perfectly, it’s a call to arms – with the arms being books, the arsenal being booksellers, story groups and libraries, and the result (hopefully) the best year in children’s books ever! It feels like it’s working, when I quietly (and politely) mention the campaign to people, their reaction is amazing and positive and that makes me very happy indeed.

    1. Indeed, makes me happy just thinking about the impact it’s had even after less than a week of being ‘out there’! You’re right, it’s shaping up to be a pretty fantastic year already 🙂

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