Adventure in a Box is happy to participate in the Sensory Play Challenge Week Blog Hop. Please, visit other participating bloggers for more ideas on sensory play. Each day will bring a new sense into focus. The first one is tactile. Nowadays it is well-known that exploring the world through touching is an essential part of a child’s growth, and playing with different textures of fabric or grabbing a fistful of beans is important to the development of his or her nervous system.
Even though books are usually associated with a visual sense, I would like to talk about how they can be a tactile experience as well. I remember Budster at seven months old, sitting on the floor of his room with a book – for forty minutes. He did not want me to read it, and he hardly looked at the pictures. He was playing with it, and his game was called “Learn to Turn the Pages”. His little fingers were grasping at the cardboard edges and flipping page after page and back. There were only five of them. He truly made them last. At seventeen months, I still find him fascinated with this process. He will pull an adult’s novel from the shelf, sit on the couch importantly and start turning pages. He must enjoy the feel of paper on his fingers.
However, there are books that are specifically made to evoke tactile senses in babies and toddlers. They are often labelled as touch-and-feel and have bits of fabric, fur and other materials inserted into the pages. They are a unique addition to the book market that I started noticing only several years ago.
In our family there is a story behind getting these books. My husband and I first saw the book Dog in a store several years ago. I am a dog fan, and he is more of a pig person. However, we both laughed at the funny pictures of dogs, silly text and interactive elements. This book seemed very unique to me as it was my first experience with a touch-and-feel book. First of all, it used photographs instead of illustrations, and then it had bits of fur glued to a shaggy dog and silky hair coming out of the Maltese dog’s tail. There was at least one interactive element per page.
Three months later, I went to the store and bought this book – and the one about the farm yard – as a joke gift for my husband. I hoped too that sooner than later we would have someone small and giggly to enjoy these books with us as well. It was three weeks afterwards that we found out about my pregnancy.
These were the first books bought for Budster, and how much he enjoyed them! The spines of the books endured one-and-a-half years of constant reading until finally giving up a couple of weeks ago, but the rest of the books are still in a very good condition despite all the petting and pulling we have done to the pages. Budster likes reading them with us, but they are also his favourite to read by himself, turning pages and sliding his finger across familiar animals and their textured bodies. He never misses the opportunity to touch a sticky dog’s tongue or to press on a squeaking rubber duck. Lately, he also discovered how to pull tabs, and now he can make the dog pee and the chicken eat, which turns these books into a game.
The book about dogs plays with the concept of antonyms: clean dog – sloppy dog, dry dog – wet dog. The book Moo teaches children the names of different members of farm families: boar – sow – piglet, billy – nanny – kid. I must say, as a person for whom English is a second language, I have learnt a few new words by reading this book. I am not sure about the book Cat. It has been on our list to buy for a while, but instead we got a hold of another van Fleet book…
Tails. The concept of interactive elements on each page stays the same, however instead of photographs there are illustrations inside. I cannot say which I prefer more. I find the photographs humorous and refreshing for a toddler’s book, and Budster seems to like their realism. However the illustrated animals, created by Matthew van Fleet, are adorable, and the pictures work well with presented textures: a bumpy tail of a crocodile, an iridescent tail of a peacock. The book, as follows from the title, describes tails of different animals, using antonymous adjectives: tails can be long and short, stumpy and slinky… Sometimes tails can even be stinky! The tail of a skunk has a scratch-and-sniff feature that I have not yet dared to try. If you like this book, Heads is another one by Matthew van Fleet created in the same style.
Another book that encourages children to touch, pull and discover is Birds of a Feather by Bernadette Gervais and Francesco Pittau. It can just as well be called a game as a book, for the amount of flaps to open. Some of them are made in a shape of an egg, others are wings with colourful feathers, and there are puzzle-shaped flaps as well. There is also an actual puzzle on two pages where you need to make a picture of a bird before discovering what it is called. This book is a fun practice for fine motor skills for toddlers and, of course, an engaging study of birds. Here is a more detailed review of this book.
Out of Sight is made in the same style, but explores the worlds of mammals. It taught me how to differentiate a leopard from a jaguar. A jaguar has spots within its spots, and a leopard does not, which is helpfully illustrated by the comparison of their fur patches. Budster does not have this book yet. I am planning to give it to him for his half-birthday this year. Judging by the book about birds, it is going to become a new bedtime story.
These are the books that Budster and I enjoy to read and to touch. After reading them daily for several months we can recommend them to everyone. Certainly, there are other good books out there: old classics like Pat the Bunny, or the new series of book That’s not My Monster/Dinosaur/Dragon etc.
If you are interested in the topic of tactile books, here are a few additional reviews that other fellow bloggers made on the subject:
Dear Zoo Touch and Feel book review by the Fairy and the Frog
Animal Books For Babies and Kids by No Time for Flash Cards
Touch and Learn Dump Truck by Reading Confetti
Pet Board Books for Babies and Toddlers by House of Burke
Books for One-Year-Olds about Spring by Toddler Approved
What are your favourite books that have interactive tactile elements in them?