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Learning to read with the 'That's Not My' series.
Usborne Touchy Feely Books: That's Not My Dragon... - Fiona Watt
Member Name: broxi3781
Usborne Touchy Feely Books: That's Not My Dragon... - Fiona Watt
Date: 07/12/12, updated on 07/12/12 (50 review reads)
Advantages: Encourages babies to enjoy books, toddlers to explore books and older children to learn to read them
Disadvantages: Only that I did not realise how wonderful these were when my oldest was still a baby.
At first glance most people would assume this is a baby book, and it is a very good book for babies and very young children. I doubt many people would even consider buying this for a child of 4 - 6, but I have come to the conclusion that this in an excellent resource in learning to read as well. I had always suspected that my son taught himself to read as much as I did. We did use some of the best phonics programmes going, but this only taught the basic mechanics - something more is required for a real explosion into reading. I have also assumed, based on observation, that the process of playing with books and just exploring them was a crucial step. I do remember learning to read myself and carefully going over books I already knew by heart studying the words, but my son said something that really clicked with me yesterday.
We were discussing the importance of school, and whether mandatory education has improved or harmed literacy. I pointed out that many children here go to school and can not read. My son thought very seriously for awhile, and then said; "We should give them the touchy feely books". This was too good to let go, so I asked him why. He told me they were really good for learning to read, because even if he couldn't read the word, he could guess most of them when he was little. He told me that he went through the books over and over reading the words he could and guessing trying to figure out the ones he couldn't. Of course he had some phonetic skills as well - so a combination of this and the text made almost every word decodable. I do very clearly remember him sitting quietly with these books - going through them over and over again and suspected something like this might have been going on - but now I know exactly what he was doing and I must admit - it does really make sense. As his ability grew he started reading this to his brother - and they were a wonderful confidence booster as well. I am so glad I have these books now.
I have to admit - my first impression of this series was quite low. None of them have a proper story in my opinion, and they are incredibly repetitive. They all follow the exact same format with a little white mouse saying "That's not my _________". This series is really huge now so you can fill in the blank with almost anything - dragon, car, puppy, plane etc... Sadly, I judged this series as rubbish without ever trying a single a copy, but I did notice my son loved other touch and feel books, and I read so many positive reviews I finally broke down and bought one - and then several more - so at least my youngest child got to enjoy these from an early age. The oldest was sadly deprived, but we do make all our mistakes on teh older children. - and he has enjoyed them a great deal even though he was older when we started collecting them. In fact he still enjoys reading these to his brother now. We now have a large collection, but this is one of our more recent purchases, and very much a favourite.
This book follows the same format as all the rest. It begins with the little mouse saying "That's not my Dragon.... its ears are too fluffy". We then move on to slimy ( which is actually silky) knobbly, prickly, fuzzy and scaly. In addition to the touch and feel aspect, this particular book is also incredibly sparkly and shiny, with mirror like spots on one dragon mirrored foil accents and stars. The dragons are very cute and well drawn as well, and very small children can enjoy pointing out the mouse, and various other features on each illustration. You can also draw attention to the different colours, body parts and more on each dragon.
As with all of these books - the pages are very heavy card and I believe impossible to tear. They do seem to hold up pretty well overall, but this is one case where I would choose new books as opposed to used. Because these are usually bought for small children, many used books will have damage to corners from being dropped too often. The spine can loosen up with enough abuse, but the pages never seem to actually come out. We do have a box of these picked up at 10p each from a boot sale years ago that appeared to be on their last legs at the time. But they have not been damaged any further - so I can only conclude that as long as any care is taken at all these should last very well. The books we have bought new have held up very well, but some of the textures are more prone to wearing out. In particular a ripply yellow paper has worn down on many of our books. The used books actually had to be washed as the furry parts had been played with by someone with dirty hands, but they survived this quite well. I used a face cloth, window spray and very hot water. I would note that this particular book does not have any textured pages of the type more prone to wear and should last a very long time.
I would very highly recommend this book to any parent with young infants, the bright colours and sparkles make this ideal for very young children. I would recommend this for ages 6 months and up. I would also point out that another member here Sandmp has written some wonderful reviews on this series and if you are looking for inspiration to use these with a very young child - her reviews should be your first stop. But in short, even a very young infant can enjoy looking at the pictures, and having a parent place their hands on each texture, saying, words like - soft - smooth - bumpy etc..
As children reach the toddler stage I feel these books are wonderful to encourage playing with books. Most children do very much enjoy feeling different textures, even my oldest still likes to feel everything at age 7, and this will encourage most children to take a look at these from time to time. Even children with very little interest in stories are apt to be drawn in my the tactile nature of these books - so I feel these are absolutely essential at this age.
Most parents would feel that an older child would be too old for these, but after having had this conversation with my son - I can see that as much as complained about too much repetition and predictability - it is exactly these features that make this a wonderful tool in helping a child learn to read. I have long since given up on "teaching" my children to read. I can teach them the basic rules of phonics, but to read fluently and really learn to love reading is something they must teach themselves. All I can do is read to them and provide them with a wide variety of quality books and nice cosy spots in the house to read. These books will not teach your child to read - but they may very well help them teach themselves. At ages 4 and 7 my sons would both be considered too old for these by most people, they do enjoy them enough that I have just ordered two for their Christmas books bundle - and my oldest was given a choice in this. If you are not sure if your child is too old - just ask them.
And if you have read this far and do not have children - thank you very much for your kindness - but may I suggest this as a gift for friends and family? From now this is the only new baby gift anyone is getting from me. I would especially suggest this if the parents struggle with reading themselves, because as my son says - you can guess most of this, but I do think children get far fewer books nowadays and more battery operated stuff. A gift of books may not only provide entertainment at the moment - it may help a child become literate - a gift that will last a lifetime.
Summary: Highly recommended for babies, toddlers and emergent readers as well.