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Hello Baby is aimed at babies from newborn to six months and is published by Sterling Publishing as part of their Begin Smart series. According to their website this series is: "a developmental publishing program designed to encourage the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth of babies and toddlers." We have two books from this series which we received as a gift. The blurb on the front and back of the book continues in a similar vein to the website, and is clearly aimed at a particular parental market. 'Books for Brainy Babies' is the tag line across the top, there is a general quotation from Tess Riesmeyer who is the Associate Director of Early Literacy from Beginning with Books (which I believe to be a US programme along the lines of Book Start in the UK which encourages early reading) about the importance of reading to Baby, and a number of statements as to what this book encourages: early visual activity, focusing, tracking, scanning, tactile stimulation, auditory stimulation, bonding, object permanence.
It seems to me that all books for babies can encourage these areas of development, with the exception perhaps of 'object permanence'. I get the impression that the publishers are trying to make this book sound unique and exceptional, which it isn't. So, the 'visual activity' is supplied by pictures, which have to be focussed, tracked and scanned, the book is a solid object so provides 'tactile stimulation' (and some pages have a spongy rubber texture between them so they squash), the 'auditory stimulation' is provided by someone reading and the 'bonding' is achieved by the fact that reading the book is something you do together with your Baby. Nothing unique there then.
So, what of 'object permanence'? As the book helpfully explains on page one, this is the concept that "when an object is covered up it still exists". This is something that babies under six months do not yet understand. "For a baby to understand this," the book says, "he or she needs to see this happen many times over." So, Begin Smart have provided this book to enable such repetition and to instil the concept of object permanence within your baby.
The book shows a game of peek-a-boo. I think this is very, very silly. Object permanence is very important I'm sure, but if peek-a-boo teaches it then actually playing this with your Baby seems to me to be a far better way of doing it. I think this book is completely ridiculous. I am no expert, but suspect that playing peek-a-boo with your Baby might also encourage visual activity, tactile and auditory stimulation, and bonding, only it would do it better, since it provides direct interaction between yourself and Baby and a shared experience of the surprise, wonder and general silliness that the game provokes.
I could forgive the book if it was better, but unfortunately their picture sequencing riles me too, because I cannot make sense of it. On page three the heading is 'Peek-a-boo!' and the baby's face is covered by a cloth. Surely you say "Peek-a-boo!" When you whip the cloth away? Or have I been doing it wrong? Then later there are pictures on consecutive pages each showing the same thing: Baby with face half covered with a cloth and on the first page the words are Peek-a-boo! And on the second 'Where's baby?'. Again, you don't say "Where's baby?" when you can see the Baby, THAT's the point of Peek-a-boo: you are pretending to have mysteriously vanished. Sigh.
Save your cash. Play the game.