So, H is OBSESSED with a certain book at the moment. It’s not necessarily the story he enjoys the most (in fact, the story seems to play very little part in his enjoyment of it), but this is the one he can spend a loooooong time looking at all by himself.
Now, whilst this wouldn’t be my first choice of story to share with H (it centres very loosely on Thomas going too fast and Sir Topham Hatt having to continually ask him to slow down. That is all that happens. I’m not joking…) the happiness it brings him can’t be denied.
It got me to thinking about what purpose books like this serve. It is basically a toy in the shape of a book, but it is still definitely a book. H is at that age where he is getting frustrated by the vast difference between what he can understand and what he can articulate and sharing an activity like this allows us to spend time together with him taking control. He can enjoy this book with me reading to him but, more importantly, he can enjoy it on his own terms as well.
Don’t get me wrong, he still sits and pores over ‘normal’ print books as well, but more often than not he brings them straight to me so that I can read out loud to him. With the ‘noisy’ books (and we have a few of them) he will sit for longer by himself and flick through them, playing the sounds every so often and chuckling to himself.
Also, and I suppose this might be to do with the frustrations mentioned above, he doesn’t always want to settle down and read stories quietly with us at bedtime. I can clearly see that he wants to chat about his favourite books buthe hasn’t got the words yet and, to avoid feeling stuck in that trap, he’ll do something very different (like running laps of our upstairs rooms). Books like this one seem to provide a transition between whatever else he might have been doing and sitting down quietly and reading, ready for bed.
Clearly, these books also work to bring the story to life for the listener. H is not ‘into’ Thomas the Tank Engine, so the tunes and noises don’t hold any extra special importance for him in that regard, but I can well see how something like this might encourage a reluctant reader into sitting down and looking at a book. In my mind, anything that performs such a great feat will always be worthwhile.
It will be really interesting to see whether this book forms part of H’s future loft treasures or whether this will bite the dust once he can talk to us a little more about the other books he likes. C certainly isn’t nearly so keen on these ‘noisy’ books any more, though I’m quite aware that this could be down to personal preference rather than simply as a result of him having reached a specific developmental milestone.
What do you think? Have you enjoyed sharing this sort of book with your children at home? Have you ever shared them with a larger group of children – in a nursery or school, for example?