Review | Kottavi Raja and his Sleepy Kingdom

Author: Yasasvini Sampathkumar
Illustrator: Henu Mehtani
Publication: Pratham Books
Age: Level 3 (7-10 years)

How many of you have trouble sleeping at night? Yawning through the day and feeling fresh like a daisy at night? If you answered yes to the above questions, then it is likely that you will relate to Kottavi Raja too!

Meet this insomniac king and enter his sleepy kingdom where the king is forever awake at night and keeping his kingdom awake too. Kottavi Raja’s wife, ministers and all the subjects in the kingdom are exasperated, exhausted and annoyed at the king’s lack of sleep as all their efforts to put him to sleep are in vain.

This Level 3 book by Pratham is an entertaining read. The language is simple and can be easily understood by kids above 4 years and kids above 7 years who read books independently.

The story has been woven beautifully through visual imagery created jointly by the author and illustrator.

Reading this book aloud to younger ones is equal fun!

Review | Fly, Little Fish!

Author: Lavanya Karthik
Illustrators: Satwik Gade & Ashwathy P.S.
Publication: Karadi Tales
Age: 4-7 years

This book in hardcover format is appropriate for preschoolers. As the title and the book cover suggests, it is the fantasy of a little fish in the vast ocean. The ocean has marine life of all kinds; biggest and the smallest fauna co-exist peacefully.

The story is about the will and determination of this little fish who aspires to fly, something that we as kids did too. Most of us as kids always wanted to achieve the “impossible” as labelled by adults. Similarly, this fish wants to fly.

The book captures his journey very beautifully through wonderful illustrations. The book paves way for widening the imagination of children who aspire to touch higher limits. The adage “Nothing is impossible” is perfect in this story!

Just like other Karadi Tales books, this one also sends a powerful message to kids and even adults who somehow restrict themselves or limit their skills in tiny boxes!

Children above the age of 4 will enjoy this book the most!

Happy Reading!

Early Reader becomes a Bookworm

I have borrowed the above statement from a famous adage: “The early bird gets the worm”. We all learned this proverb in school. It applies to every walk of life. In case of children, this adage gains more significance as they cross various milestones in life. There are some habits or values which we want our kids to imbibe early. They are called modeled habits.

This is the main reason why we introduce certain habits early. For instance, right from brushing teeth twice a day to three meals a day (differs in every culture and community), we do this in front of our kids so that they imbibe it.

Similarly, book reading is also a modeled habit. If we read books or newspapers in front of our kids or set a routine of reading out newspapers or story books aloud (depending on the age), then it will ensure they will enjoy reading a lot more than we imagined.

Books are great to enhance imagination and also engage a child constructively. Most of the time kids these days would prefer the screen. But what a visual medium does, is to kill the imagination of a child. Whilst reading a book, the same child will be forced to imagine the scene, the plot, characters, seasons and sometimes even a piece of music mentioned by the author.

Reading helps in writing and developing other fine arts at a later stage. As you read each word, it gets embedded in the memory and helps in word-picture association at a later stage. The child will be able to do his projects effectively and without help. He will use these early associations (from his or her early reading sessions) during his learning sessions at home/or school. In effect, it helps in enriching vocabulary – pictorial, verbal and wriitten.

The earlier you take to reading, the more it will help during your early learning years as well as professional life. You cannot develop love for books overnight especially after you have become adults. If you notice some people around you say that they do not like books, one of the main reasons is that they were never encouraged to read when they were small or they were pushed into academics by parents saying reading books is a waste of time! I am sure most of you reading this will be able to relate to this.

So begin as early as possible – as early as when your child is curious to explore coloured flyers/newspapers/books or magazines. Do not kill that curiosity with your concern that they will tear the book to pieces. Slowly inculcate the habit by showing pictures, sitting with your children and eventually they will understand why books are lovely and they should not damage them.

Reading is a life-long gift that you can gift your child!

Review | Tap Tap Tapak (Hindi)

Author: Amar Goswami
Illustrator: Partho Sengupta
Publisher: Pratham
Language: Hindi

This review has been long overdue. But I felt it is appropriate time to talk about this book – it is the rainy season now, and kids love the rains!

Paper boats are out floating in the water and crazy dancing in the rains ensues. But what exactly does it mean for the animals in this jungle?

The title of this Hindi book from Pratham publications itself suggests it is a sound and the various interpretations by the residents of the jungle. So what does this sound stand for? This is exactly what the jungle animals do. They set out to find out the source of the sound they hear on a rainy day.

The author and illustrator have both done a great job in maintaining suspense, enough to hold a child’s interest in finding out more about the sound mentioned.

This Level 2 book by Pratham is a picture-rich story book appropriate for kids aged 3+.

Review | Nat Geo Kids’ Little Kids First Big Book series

Type: Hardcover
Age group: 4+
Language: English
Author/Publisher: Nat Geo Kids

If you are wondering what to gift your toddler who has turned 4, then here is the perfect series for them. I recommend this as a parent whose toddler is enjoying every page of the three-book set!

The set comprises of The Little Kids First Book of Animals, The Little Kids First Book of Why and The Little Kids First Book of Space. Each book has the power to raise the curiosity of young minds. All these books whet the curiosity and answers all the questions that kids get at this age.

The first book is all about animals living in the Grassland, Ocean, Desert, Forest and Polar animals. It contains more than 200 incredible fun photos and facts on animals. The best part are the questions at the end of each chapter and a few tips for parents while reading the book.

The second book is an amazing trip into space. Kids get transported to their Universe and solar system. Nearly 100 beautiful illustrations and photographs interspersed with simple read-it-aloud text helps engage a rather busy toddler.  Each chapter has questions that invoke curiosity in every young mind.

The third book aptly named Why answers the smallest questions arising in children’s minds, ranging from “why are some animals so big and so small?’ to “why does my skin wrinkle in the tub?” and a myriad others.

The best part about these books is that they are a treasure chest of knowledge compiled at the most basic level by the Nat Geo Kids team who painstakingly put together all illustrations and photographs. This is one collection to be cherished forever!

All in all, a perfect gift for kids aged 4+.

Book Review | Mera Parivaar (Hindi)

Author(s): Arshi Naaz, Kuldeep Sandhu and Susheela
Illustrator: Rajeev Verma ‘Banjara’

A Level 1 book in Hindi by Pratham Publications, Mera Parivaar or my family is about the various members of a family in India. As a level 1 book, it is a perfect book for children to begin reading books with the help of elders – more importantly to improve listening and comprehension skills.

Mera Parivaar is about a small girl called Tuktuk who introduces her not-so-small, yet big family. Her family comprises of her mother, father, brother, sister, maternal and paternal grandparents, aunts and uncles, younger cousins and a small pet dog Bujo.

Authors Arshi Naaz, Kuldeep Sandhu and Susheela have kept up the narration alive through the main character Tuktuk. Illustrator Rajeev Verma has sketched all the members of a typical joint family in India quite well.

All of us have at some point grown up in a joint family at some point of time. Annual family reunions used to be a ritual every summer vacation for most growing up in the 80s and 90s, and even until recent. This book is great for tiny tots to understand each relationship quite well.

Apt for kids aged 3+.

Book Review | Gajapati Kulapati Chapaakkk Dadhomm (Hindi)

After his big sneeze in Gajapati Kulapati (http://thebookmark.in/home/3880-gajapati-kulapati-hindi.html)
and his booming gurrburroomm in Gajapati Kulapati Gurrburroomm (http://thebookmark.in/home/1449-gajapati-kulapati-gurrburrrrooom-english.html) after consuming tonnes of food, it is now time to see a playful Gajapati leap and splash around in water in the third book Gajapati Kulapati Kalabalooosh/ Gajapati Kulapati Chapaakkk Dadhomm (Hindi). The book has been translated into simple-to-understand Hindi. So what happens when a jumbo takes that giant leap into the water? A comical scene describing where all the animals and kids (who come to cool off in the village pond) land right after the naughty jumbo decides to take a plunge in the cool waters.

Tiny tots will fall in love with the cute illustrations by Ashok Rajagopalan. His narrative’s repetitive and rhythmic format helps take the story forward, describing each character’s reactions in detail. One can almost imagine oneself as a character in the story. He has made narration extremely simple for kids to understand and narrate the story on their own too.

Apt for kids aged 2+, this book is perfect to read aloud to tiny tots!

Book Review | Amma Tell Me About Krishna

Author: Bhakti Mathur
Illustrator: Maulshree Somani

This is the part 1 in the Krishna Trilogy written by Bhakti Mathur. Amma Tell Me About Krishna is a part of the Amma Tell Me series of books where a boy called Klaka loves hearing stories on every Indian culture and festival celebrated in India. In this trilogy too, the author has chosen Klaka as a listener and his mom as a narrator of this age old mythological tales from Krishna’s birth to his adulthood.

Illustrator Maulshree Somani’s beautifully sketched story of Krishna’s birth, supported by Bhakti Mathur’s excellent yet simple narration of this age-old mythological tale, is sure to touch your child’s heart.

It is the Janmashtami festival and Klaka has enjoyed watching preparations in the temple for the birth of Krishna. He has witnessed the traditional dahi handi – a sport played by boys who form a pyramid and compete to break a mud pot hung at a height.

The revelry and colours splashed across his community has left little Klaka enthralled and curious. He wants to know more about why Janmashtami is celebrated and Krishna. So Amma begins to narrate the story of Krishna to Klaka and his sister.

A lovely book to read aloud by kids aged 3 years and above.

Toddler to Bookworm – a mom’s journey

I have been a bookworm and books were my best friends since childhood. I intended to do the same for my son.

I still remember being gifted many small board books when my son was born and, some when he turned 6 months. My first response when I got these books was: how will this tiny bundle understand what books are, let alone words or language or illustrations in it! It was a time when I was doing extensive research online and discovered that books can be introduced as early as 3 months.

Having said that, I still attempted to open and keep books in front of my six month old. The first time, he took them in his hand very professionally (holding it and keeping it in front of his face), and decided to utilize his gross motor skills and tore a book. The matronly instinct in me made me take away the book away from him and scold him. After that I made sure I hand books to him only if I am sitting with him.

Mommy instincts & “let-go” approach
The first time mommy instinct in me took over and made me constantly indulge in: don’t touch this, don’t tear that, don’t create a mess etc. After a while, it became clear to me that the “don’t do this or that” approach will not work with my energetic toddler as he often challenged me by deliberately doing things to catch my attention.

Another thought that occurred to me was I might make him averse to books by constantly saying negative. Slowly I adopted the “let-go” approach with him by letting him handle books as he pleased. I realized he was trying to explore books. Eventually he stopped biting books or tearing them too; in fact he loved turning pages and simply looking at pictures.

First books
His first books were “touch-and-feel” books. He learned texture as well as various objects/animals. Then slowly went on to board books. Both the above mentioned are picture rich. After he turned 2, it became a night time ritual to read out stories – he was in love with mythological and animal tales at one point! Slowly I got hard book covers and paperbacks. The stories graduated to small kids and adults in his language. The tone of my story telling changed from baby voices to adult tones. That I believe was the turning point for developing his vocabulary and language. Another vital lesson learnt was that speaking in normal adult language (voice and tone) helps kids learn languages faster, especially the mother tongue.

Never-too-late approach
I admit I introduced stories quite late to him but as a 3.8 year old now, he loves stories of any type. So I do not believe that if you have introduced books later too, it is perfectly fine.

It all began with familiarizing him with the book texture, doing picture talk, showing and reading stories on objects/birds/animals/humans, and gradually making him hear stories (sometimes with, and without books too).

Story Telling v/s visual media
I believe developing listening and comprehension skills are as important for developing imagination for a child. Hence the last medium is very important to be started at an early age. So my suggestion would be to start narrating stories without any visual mediums (books/TV/CDs).

The biggest advantages of storytelling are:

  1. You will have undivided attention of the toddler.
  2. Improved listening skills and concentration
  3. Wild and colourful imagination developed (vital to brain development)
  4. Thoughts and perceptions remain unbiased thanks to no visual mediums, which are mostly an overload for a small kid.

Lastly, the more you tell stories, the more the child will be interested to know what lies in those colourful pages.

 

Book Review | I Want My Mum

Author: Tony Ross

The story is about a Little Princess who loves her mother and cannot let her out of sight even for a few hours.

The various situations that the Princess gets stuck in and asks for her mother, is both comical as well as heart-warming. It is nice to see how even the smallest things can bring a smile to children’s faces, for instance, in this case, it is her mother coming and reassuring that everything will be fine or praising her spoiled painting. She looks up to her mother for everything to solve all her problems. She is her role model. The Little Princess wants her mother all the time – whether it is playing games with her or meal times. The Little Princess is like any other toddler who gets scared of monsters and hates applying medicine when hurt. Another book by Tony Ross in the popular Little Princess series, this one is sure to steal your heart.

The Little Princess is part of a popular series written by Tony Ross especially for toddlers who also face problems like the princess, even though she is a royal. Tony Ross has managed to strike a chord with children as well as parents by narrating stories at a very micro level, without trivializing their problems and at the same time, giving the toddlers importance just like an adult.

Beautiful illustrations capture the toddlers’ moods – happy, sad, angry, upset, jealous and all facets of toddlers.

Perfect book to read aloud to toddlers aged 3+.