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A good tactile ABC has long been the holy grail of home educators, and I would assume highly sought after by school teachers and parents. After all, most young children really enjoy touch and feel books and a child will learn far more from a book that interests them, but there is more to it than this. Different children learn best in different ways. These include visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and logical or analytical, and whether we care to admit it or not, rote learning. While many children tend to favour one type of learning over others, and there is a tendency for experts to want to lump children into one specific group, the simple fact is that most children learn best when taught using as many of these styles as possible. A child using a tactile alphabet book with a parent is using auditory skills as the parent reads the text, visual skills as they look at the letter and pictures. They are also learning by rote, or memory as they continually see the same letter associated with the letter name or sound. But a tactile book brings a new dimension to this, allowing them to learn by touch as well, thus increasing the chance of success. It also makes the book fun, which means it will be used more often, increasing the chance of memorisation.
Despite all the advantages to be gained from a tactile alphabet book - publishers have never caught on - so many home educators make do with stickers, gluing on textures, etc... Montessori schools use sand paper letters, and I remember a teacher in nursery using letters made on cardboard with pasta. Other experts have recommended plastic letters although plastic has such a plasticky feel, or better yet, wood, but everyone seems to be searching for a good tactile alphabet.
I chose this book because i could see on the Amazon look inside feature that there was some texture to the letters themselves, and also because I quite like Fiona Watt's That Not My ..... series. Prices for a new copy of this book are currently a rather insane £32 odd pound, which quite frankly I would pay for an extremely well made touch and feel ABC - but at that price it had better be very, very good. I paid £2.81 for this used, which was fair enough.
This is a very traditional alphabet book - a is for apple, be is for b and c is for car. I'm afraid these illustrations do not engage my child at all, but that is just his personal tastes. They are very bright and colourful, and reasonably well drawn, but perhaps best suited to younger children - ages 1 -3. Although he isn't terribly interested in the pictures themselves, he does love touch and feel books, so despite not being very interested in things like jam or a vase, he does use this book now and then, and I do feel it is useful for teaching the alphabet.
Not every picture has a texture, but most pages do have at least one textured pictured. I rather think it is cheating to use a cut out section with smooth card as a texture through when the entire book is made of smooth card. In addition to the card texture, they have a number of cloth textures. These are not the greatest, but they are OK, and enough to get him to read the book now and then. They most certainly do not compare with the textures in Fiona Watt's That's Not My.... series.
This book also uses lower cases letters only, but I was aware of that before buying this and will not mark down for this reason.The biggest disappointment though is in the letters themselves. They are all textured, but only with a stamp creating ridges into the paper. There are none that have a cut out insert, and the texture is slightly less noticeable than the stickers I have used for a similar purpose with our Zombie ABC book. Nor is this as good for tactile purposes as Learn Your ABC (Sparkle Books) - which wasn't even intended to be a tactile book.
In short this book is neither very good nor very bad, it is simply mediocre. I think it would be a very good baby or toddler book, but it still has some use for any child who is learning their alphabet. I do have a lot of complaints with this book, but at the same time, I have to admit that to my knowledge, this is the only book printed which has any deliberate tactile pattern for the letters themselves. Because of this - I do still recommend this book - but only if bought used, and there is always a risk with buying this type of book used that the textures may be damaged. Considering new prices, and the very limited tactile nature of the letters I am giving this 3 stars.
Since they were around 9 months old I have loved reading with my twin boys and they have from a young age loved books. Their book collection is large however with most the early books that I bought for them I tended to go for the more interactive books with textured sections for my boys to touch. One of these early purchases was the Usbourne Touchy Feely ABC by Fiona Watt.
The book is described to be a "delightful ABC book with textured letters and illustrations to help children learn the alphabet.
The Touchy Feely ABC is basically a bright and colourful book about 25cm by 25cm square and around 4-5cm thick. The alphabet is spelt out over around 8 double pages and each letter has a different texture for a child to feel as well as a word and picture that is "touchy feely" with some form of texture to it. Each of the double pages has a tab at the top which clearly shows what letters are contained on this page so children (and parents) can skip to the favourite pages easily.
The cover price of this book is £9.99 which although I feel this is a lovely book and very well made and robust at £10 this is quite an expensive book. The Usbourne Touchy Feely ABC is sold in Waterstones, ELC and Mothercare for £9.99 and in my inexperienced state of book buying I purchased this book from ELC during a 3 for 2 offer on books. However after browsing different stores and websites Asda and Tesco sell this book for around £6-7. Amazon also sell this title for £6 which I feel is very good value.
The Touchy Feely ABC has no real story to it. It is just a book that spells out the alphabet and has a collection of words and pictures on each of the pages. The front cover is really bright and attractive and I feel is what sold this book to me as it stood out on the shelf next to the other children's books. The cover is mainly yellow with a simple friendly looking zebra on the front and an image of a tree and a son. The cover is slightly smaller than the back board of the book so that the tags around the top edge and right hand side edge do not protrude. There are 4 tabs on the top of the book and 4 tabs on the right hand side of the book so you can easily skip to certain letters and pages. We tend not to do so however I think that this is a nice touch especially for older toddlers and children.
On each of the double pages there are 3-4 different letters therefore 3-4 different words and textured illustrations. What I really like about this ABC book are the words for the particular letters are quite basic and common words that a child will use for example A is for apple (and there is a picture of a shiny apple and B is for B and there is a furry bee picture next to the word). Some other ABC books we have seem to illustrate random words that I feel a child will not use or be able to recognise from everyday life but this is not the case for Touchy Feely ABC. Although there are 3-4 images on each of the pages I do not feel the page looks cramped or overcrowded. The textured sections do vary and although each of the images included some form of texture there is usually one letter from each page that is the focal point and has the most texture or appeal however all of the images are bright clear and easy even for a young toddler to recognise what they are.
Obviously as this is not a story book it is more educational than entertaining but my boys found this entertaining both as babies and as toddlers. I started reading this book to my boys at around 9 months old. I would say the word and initially run their hand over the textured sections on the page. However within a matter of weeks they understood and remembered that the pages of this book were textured and would reach out and touch the pages on their own. This would cause a lot of delight and giggles and thy particularly liked the fluffy sections on the owl and on the zebras tail.
I do feel that this book has a lot of developmental and educational benefits. On a basic level it is a book that encourages a child to explore with their hands and offers touch and visual stimulation because of the bright colours and textures. For older babies and toddlers it introduces words and gets them to recognise different objects and encourages speech development. From around 15-16 months I would say a word and ask my boys to point at that object on the page. As they got older and nearer 18-20 months they would copy the word I was saying so I do feel this book helped to add words to their vocabulary. Now at 2 years old they still enjoy reading this book and they can the most of the words in this book and also make sounds for different animals or say where we can find certain objects (for example if you ask them where the apple is they will say "fruit bowl").
Although I did feel paying £9.99 was a lot for this book I have been really impressed with the durability of this book and after over 1 year of regular reading including my boys reading it on their own it is still in almost as new condition. The pages are made from hard cardboard so this is essentially a board book and the pages cannot be bent and neither can the tabs along the top of the book. Even though the touchy feely sections on each of the pages have been touched over and over by my boys they have suffered no wear and tear. The fluffy sections on some of the pages do not look matted or tatty and even when pulled hard bits of fluff do not come loose.
I would definitely recommend this book to other parents of children under the age of 2-2 and a half. Even though it does seem quite an expensive book it is very robust and after over a year of regular reading from my boys who play roughly this book still looks as new so it has been worth the £9.99 cover price, although I would recommend shopping around to get it cheaper. I think this is not only a very educational book it is also very entertaining because of the bright coloured pages, illustrations and textured sections so great for even young babies. My only criticism if any is that because it is quite a large (heavy) book it maybe robust but for young children if they pull it off a bookshelf onto themselves it can cause some tears! But a purchase that I definitely wouldn't cry about!