We have always wholeheartedly believed that it is important to help children nurture a love for books from a young age.
Over the past four years, since the arrival of our first child (whom we nicknamed Barnacles), we have built up a mini library of books in our home for our two kids. Some of these were given as gifts, and others we purchased ourselves. We have noticed that several books have ‘staying power’, and are repeatedly reached for – some books have even become dog-eared from repeated use!
With so many books available out there, it is tough to choose which to buy. We hope that our experience will help other parents who are looking to select the right books for their babies and young children.
Before Barnacles turned a year old, we experimented with teaching him with flash cards but did not really follow through, as we generally preferred books. Something we have noticed about our two kids is that as babies, they always enjoyed looking at books with pictures of faces, those with flaps, as well as small board books as these are easy for small fingers to handle.
When Barnacles was about three years old, we started trying to teach him to read books, in tandem with his viewing of several phonics videos which we previously wrote about.
We were initially unsure which books were best to teach reading fundamentals, but after doing some research and talking to relatives and friends, we found several phonics books that he loved. He requested to read some of these books daily, and learnt how to read several purely by memory alone – which we discovered are ideal first steps for learning to read.
Reading books, coupled with learning phonics and word blends from LeapFrog and Rock n Learn Phonics DVDs, seems to have paid off – he is now able to read some books with short and simple sentences.
Along with Letterland audio CDs that taught Barnacles all the alphabet phonics sounds, we also purchased several books from the series. We especially liked the Letterland wipe-clean alphabet book, as its bright colours got him interested in writing his letters. Several books that were a hit were those from Ladybird’s Read-it-yourself series which has classic tales like Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood (with books available for different reading levels), and we also found a Lego Phonics reading set which is his favourite set of books to date.
We found a good site to purchase books from, as it offers free worldwide shipping regardless of purchase amount. We have also gotten several good buys from local retailers such as Books Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City, and at Elm Tree Books at Paragon.
We found that exposing Barnacles to a wide variety of books really helped. He loves being read to, and every night he inevitably attempts to negotiate for Mummy to read more books than we have time for before bedtime.
He has also developed a love for the library, after discovering that he could borrow several books at a time. It is interesting how children at this age tend to be fixated on a specific interest – he has chosen to borrow just about all the fire engine/police/paramedic related library books on the shelves – several more than once. It’s great for us to borrow instead of buy as well, as our modest abode is fast running out of space. Our 14-month-old (nicknamed Kwazii) loves books too – his favourite pastime is taking them one by one and throwing them off the bookshelf!
For Singaporean and Permanent Resident children born in the year of 2016 and 2017, signing up for free library membership and borrowing six books entitles each child to a complimentary goodie bag with three free board books – we thought this was a great initiative.
We recently came across this quote that we really like: “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” We agree, and certainly hope that our small effort in exposing them to different kinds of books will stand them in good stead to face the world of the future.
Mummy and Daddy Daycare are the pseudonyms of a Singaporean husband and wife who are raising two young boys aged four and one, nicknamed Barnacles and Kwazii from the children’s Octonauts series. Get into the minds of this couple who describe parenthood as a lifetime adventure – you are always learning something new! Whoever said parenting was a walk in the park?
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