Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Let's Read! and Look at me now! by Carol McDougall and Shanda LaRamee-Jones

I received two sample review books from a Canadian publisher, Nimbus, which is new to me.

Let's Read shows a diverse array of parents and babies reading board books together and emphasizes early literacy skills. "Turn the page and show me/Pictures in a book/Polka dogs and big red blocks/Let's take another look!" In larger, bold text, the skill in use is noted "I am seeing." Multiple board books are pictured throughout the book. One seen most frequently is Look at me now! also by Nimbus. Others are titles I recognized like Charley Harper's ABCs.

I thought some of the rhymes were forced and the photographs of babies and parents were a bit too posed. All of them have stark white backgrounds and show babies sitting quietly in their parents' laps or carefully selecting a book from a pristine shelf. Even the page about exploring books through different senses, "Touch it, hold it, chew it!/That's how I explore." does not actually show the baby chewing any of the (new-looking) books. There isn't really a plot line to the book and while it's perfect for babies who are at the right developmental stage to look at and enjoy pictures of other babies and kids, I felt that it was directed more towards parents than children.

Which is cool! If I was putting together early literacy bags or handouts, this series would be just right to gently encourage parents in ways to interact with their child. The simple text is easy to read for adults who struggle with literacy and the diverse array of babies is a nice touch.

The second book I received from Nimbus, Look at me now! is also directed towards early literacy and interactions with a child. A blond child travels throughout their day interacting with their parents and hitting developmental milestones. They feed themselves with help, manipulate simply objects and find body parts, attend storytime with a diverse group of friends (including one parent in a wheelchair), interact with mom at the grocery store, play with dad, and read a story before bedtime.

Once again this pinpoints important early literacy points; talking with your child, helping them tackle physical stages in development, expressing affection through touch and words. However, it's not the type of "story" I can see reading aloud to a baby or toddler or holding their attention. The art in this title is illustrations and while they're colorful and cheerful the choice to draw all the people without fingers was weird. No, the baby is not wearing mittens on the cover. All the hands in the story look like that. It's odd. Like they're dolls, not real people. It's not meant to show people with physical disabilities either - that looks different.

Verdict: While I wouldn't add these to a general library collection, I will definitely keep the Baby Steps series, which includes I Like to Read!, in mind for early literacy outreach and promotion.

I like to read!
ISBN: 9781771083683; Published 2016 by Nimbus

Look at me now!
ISBN: 9781771082075; Published 2014 by Nimbus

Review copies provided by publisher; Donated to my colleague as samples to diversify her early literacy outreach

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