Thursday, May 7, 2015

BabyLit Children's Books

We are a family of readers.  We all love sticking our nose in a book and getting lost in it.  It has always been really important to us that our children share that love.

When Pickle was an infant and toddler, we had lots of books, and shared them with her.  However - they were sort of boring, I'll be honest.  There were the picture books of feet and elbows and dolls and the like when she was really little.  As she got older, we incorporated Pat the Bunny and Goodnight Moon types of books.  Can I quickly say that I really just don't care for Pat the Bunny?  It's super-boring graphics, repetitive without really instilling any vocabulary - the tiny little interactive pieces were really the only redeeming value in the book.  As a parent, it would be mind-numbing to read these books that really had no inherent learning value.  So, when I recently got a chance to review some BabyLit children's books with the Peanut, I was ecstatic.

What are BabyLit books?  Easy.  They're literary classics, made for little ones - but with a sense of style (LINK).  Everything from Dracula to Anna Karenina is there, but has been made age-appropriate for a small child while still appealing to adults.

Here is the selection that we were lucky enough to sample:

Pride & Prejudice, Alice In Wonderland, Sense & Sensibility, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Sherlock Homes in The Hound of the Baskervilles.  

Already this was warming my former-English lit-major heart.  Reading these, I was much more engaged and interested than I am reading other kids' books - these are stories that I know, and it was fun for me to see how they took them and made them appropriate for children.  They were quaint and fun and cool.

What was also neat about each book is that they became a "primer" in a certain skill or area.  For example, Pride & Prejudice is a "counting primer" for kids:

The BabyLit book took a classic, familiar text, and turned it into a beautifully-illustrated lesson on counting.  Five sisters (one for each of the Bennet girls).  Four proposals (beware, there's a bit of a spoiler here if you're not familiar with the book!), etc.  This is a great way to introduce the concept of numbers to a very small child without making it intimidating.  Our little Peanut man loved it, but it was interesting enough that our 4.5-year-old Pickle also asks me to read it to her over and over even though she knows her numbers.  Since P&P is one of my two or three favorite books of all time, I have no issue obliging this request!
The Sherlock Holmes book is a "sounds primer":

Each of the pages featured an example of onomatopoeia - a door that creaks, a shoe that scrapes, and several other words created from their corresponding sounds.  Our little Peanut loves this one the best, because I try and make the words sound lifelike while I'm reading it to him.  Here's how he tries to read it to himself:

I swear this wasn't posed.

He usually spends most of his time chewing on the books; this is actually just fine with the BabyLit books, as they are thick cardboard board books.  As such, they are incredibly durable.  

Like I mentioned before, these books are also cool.  When they're not being read by the littles, we actually have them sitting out on our coffee table as conversation pieces.  We've had a few friends pick them up and leaf through them already - they always brings a smile, and are a great discussion piece.  

I loved these books, both of my kids loved these books, and our guests have loved these books.  I would absolutely display these even if we didn't have kids, but they're great books that capture the attention of a child while simultaneously teaching them something.  (That's something of a rarity these days!)  In addition, they foster awareness and love for the classical literature that is beneficial for the children to be exposed to later in life.  What a great idea!

(Totally as an aside, but I just think this is adorable - check out their shop!  How cute is it for a three-year-old to carry her dolls and blocks and notebooks in a Wuthering Heights tote?!)


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