I mentioned in a couple of my previous reviews that our local library have begun regularly selling off some of their older or slightly damaged books for just 10p each. My children, three and one, love books and it has become routine for us to pop into the library on our way home from nursery to see what they have to offer for their ever-growing book collections.
Last week we visited to find a rather familiar book sitting on the shelf, Baby Touch Animal Book. My son and I attended Baby Signing classes when he was just 9 months old and mixed in with toys and instruments on the play mat was this very same book. It was a hit with all of the children back then, which is why I remember it so vividly. Seeing it on the shelf on sale at just 10p, I just had to buy it for my daughter.
The Baby Touch Animal Book from Ladybird is written by Justine Smith and illustrated by Fiona Land. It has a recommended retail price of £6.99 and the best price I have found is currently in WH Smiths where it is priced at just £5.59.
This is a board book with very sturdy pages made from thick cardboard. Each page is a different shape and is positioned in a similar fashion to a fan, so that all edges of each page are visible when looking at the book face on. This inevitably makes it much easier for young children to turn each page. I have often noticed that with regular shaped board books, my children will try to turn the pages and mistakenly turn two or three instead. Another benefit of the unusual shape of this book is that finding the edge of each page to turn it will aid hand-eye co-ordination.
The predominant aim of this book is to promote sensory awareness in young children. This is achieved by the use of many touch and feel elements throughout the book. There are panda bears which furry tummies, ducks with squishy wings and elephants with rough ears amongst others. There are not only different textures, but also plenty of bright, vivid colours and metallic sections in many of the illustrations. To add further intrigue there are then cut out sections on all pages but the last, where an illustration from the previous or following page is visible.
There is no storyline as such to this book. We are rather simply presented with some fabulous illustrations and invited to touch them as we go along. We are also asked to find things at certain points throughout the book. For instance we begin with a very lovely stripy cat. We are told that this is 'mummy cat' and asked to feel her furry tummy. We are then asked 'Where is the kitten?' The interactive element to this book is just wonderful and makes it very enjoyable to read to young children. In fact, it feels more of an activity, or a game, than simply reading a book to them.
The Baby Touch Animal Book is part of a series which we are reminded about on the back page. If this is a hit with your child then there are others to collect too. The series consists of Play Book, Rhyme Book, Picture Book, Colours, Shapes, Busy Book, Noisy Book, Cot Book and Peekaboo Book. Some of these are available in WH Smiths as well as on Amazon.co.uk.
Also mentioned on the back page are three beneficial points to this publication. It encourages interactive play, helps to develop sensory awareness and is perfect for sharing and talking. I would certainly agree with all of those points.
My daughter really does love this book. It immediately became her favourite. In fact, after purchasing it from the library I needed to go and get some shopping from the supermarket. She insisted on carrying it around for the whole time we were out and then explored it eagerly once we reached home. It is not a small book by any means, to be exact it measures 26 x 25.4 x 0.4cm, and so I was sure that her little arms would soon be tired, but she proved me wrong. As I have mentioned in a previous review, the sight of any animal, either while out walking or in a book or magazine, is always met by a shriek of excitement and an "Awwww!" from my little girl. After a week of owning this book, she still lets out those excited sounds when flicking through the pages. My son is not as interested in it and has simply given it a few quick glances, though he is three now, whereas my daughter is just 17 months old.
In summary, this is a wonderful book. There are so many things to look at, to find and to feel within that is really is very engaging. It was adored by my son at our signing group when he was small and is now equally adored by my young daughter. This was a very good find at just 10p, it is a marvellous addition to my children's book collection!
The Baby Touch Animal Book is part of the Baby Touch range from Ladybird. This particular book was published in 2007, but the range has been going since 2005 and new books are still being produced. It was bought as a gift for our daughter by her Grandma when she was around 2 months old and is a definite favourite in our household.
The book is marketed to retail at £6.99, but was bought as part of a long running 3 for 2 offer on books in Early Learning Centre, along with a Baby Touch Peekaboo book and another of a different type. I've since seen that the books are available at a reasonable price from Amazon, so it's worth shopping around if you want to buy one.
The range of Baby Touch books is still growing, but includes Playbook, Rhyme Book, Picture Book, Colours, Shapes, Cot Book, Busy Book and Noisy Book. The series is aimed at babies from 0-24 months old. Although this review is about the Animal Book, those I have seen seem to all follow a similar format.
Baby Touch Animal Book is a large format board book - it's approximately 10 inches square, which means there's plenty of space for large pictures and words. The board book format is very robust and stands up to a lot of abuse. The front cover has a brightly coloured fish, with the book title and the Ladybird symbol. This particular book is very cleverly designed so that all 6 pages are partially visible from the front cover - the front page has a large portion cut away towards the rear of the fish picture. Each subsequent page has slightly less cut away than the last, and the part of each page that's visible from the front cover forms one section of the fish tail. Each of these sections of tail has a different brightly coloured pattern, with the overall effect being a fish picture which is very attractive to a small child. In addition, the fins and spots on the fish are sparkly, to add further interest.
Within the book itself, each double page consists of a mummy or daddy animal, along with one or more babies. The book encourages touching throughout, with every page starting with the words Baby, Touch. There are additional opportunities presented on each page, such as 'Tickle the Kitten's Tummy' or 'Feel her rough ears', each one of these involves a different texture to feel and there are also holes in some pages with interesting patterns behind them. Even my four month old daughter enjoys the touching element of the book, although she needs to be helped to touch the right part of the page.
Each page presents opportunities for your baby to find something - the book specifically asks them to find the mummy or daddy or babies on each page. In addition, there are lots of other little characters in the book for baby to look at and interaction is encouraged throughout e.g. 'Hello, caterpillar' and 'Wave to the butterfly'
If all this weren't enough, the book gives opportunities to learn basic concepts such as counting up to 3, animal sounds, big and little, and there are the first lines of well known rhymes - 'Round and round the garden, like a teddy bear' and 'Twinkle, twinkle little star'.
My daughter loves this book, she smiles when I pick it up and sits focussed on it throughout. At only 4 months, anything that can do this is impressive. Because of the wealth of opportunities for interaction, it can be adapted as she grows to grow with her - e.g. for now she's happy to just listen and be helped to touch the textured sections of the book, but when she's older she'll be able to participate in all the interactive opportunities presented. My only criticism would be that at her age, the size of the book makes it difficult for her to reach some of the textured sections, but this is a minor issue as she's happy just to look at the moment if she can't reach and I feel the benefits of the larger size outweigh this. Overall I would highly recommend this book to anyone with children in the target age range.
Bright, colourful and very attractive to small children
Large size means large pictures and words
Slightly too big for very small babies to reach the different textures