Why this book
As a parent of a toddler who is gradually learning language and manners I personally thought it was important that he learnt how to say please and thank you along with all his other new words. Now as he is a clambering active toddler trying to get this message across to him on a daily basis was proving hard work, so after a bit of searching on Amazon we found a book that we thought would help him learn to say please and why it was important. My son loves having a book read to him especially on a night so we decided this would be part of his night time book selection so he could hopefully remember and process this information whilst he slept.
About the Author
Claire Freedman has written several children's books possibly the most well know of these is Aliens love Underpants. She lives in Essex and is continuing to write books currently. Steve Smallman the illustrator has being illustrating children's books for about 30 years and has provided all of the illustrations for the Benjamin Bear books.
About the book
This is a small board book which follows a very energetic and bouncy Benjamin Bear as he plays outside with friends in the snow. Unfortunately he forgets to say please on many occasions which upsets his friends and they have remind him to say please. After three times of forgetting he finally remembers and learns to say please when he asks for a doughnut and hot chocolate to warm himself up. His friends then ask him to play in the snow with them tomorrow saying please as it has been such fun.
We got this book for our son no long after his second birthday. At the time we were experiencing all the snow problems here in the UK so the snowy scenes illustrated within the book immediately appealed to him. This I think was because he could identify with the characters as they made a snowman and went sledging as these had been things we had been doing during the day. The illustrations themselves are very charming and funny. The animals all have wonderfully expressive faces showing happiness sadness and enjoyment. The artist has managed to capture these emotions whilst still retaining the animal characteristics. As it is set in winter they are all bundled up in hats and scarf's which amused my toddler and until he could say please this book was often referred to as the hat book.
The story certainly appeals to my toddler as he seems to like the idea of all the fun Benjamin and his friends have. He seems to be able to understand that Benjamin's friends feel sad if he doesn't say please and that it makes people feel happy if you say please. The book seems to get the message across in a simple way that if you say please it makes people feel happy and appreciated. The language used is clear and simple and doesn't include any words that a toddler won't have heard meaning that they can focus on the story and the message behind it. The publishers say that the reading age of the book is for 4 years plus so this would probably make it a good book for school age children to read to younger siblings.
The way that we have used this book to help my son is when reading the book and Benjamin is asked to say please by his friends we have asked our son to say please too. Now at first he couldn't say please but we would leave a short pause so he could just try to think about saying the word. Over the course of doing this for about 4 weeks he would gradually start to say please at the parts where we prompted him. He now after a couple of months of reading the book says please when prompted when reading the book but more importantly he will say please when asking for something about 70% of the time I would say. If he forgets we ask him what do you say and if that fails to remind him we ask him what Benjamin Bear would say and this always produces a please from him. From this point I have to say the book has been a huge success and people have commented on how nice it is that he says please which I think for a two and nearly half year old is very good.
Even though he now says please when appropriate it is still part of his bedtime books for he chooses from and it is still often picked by him for either me or my husband to read to him. This I think shows how brilliantly the books author and illustrator have done in making an educational book fun and enjoyable to read as he still laughs at Benjamin's and his friends exploits in the snow
Overall and recommendation
This is a charming book with a good message running through it. The story and antics of Benjamin Bear have certainly helped my son learn how to say please and I would recommend this book whole heartedly to other parents with young children.
Board book: 26 pages
Publisher: Candle Books (21 Aug 2009)
On sale at present from Amazon for £2.99 or from the Amazon Marketplace from 7 pence