Communication & Language

Children’s books offer more than just a story

Storytime is a special moment for a grandparents and children alike. Sometimes an idea in a book can spark a child’s imagination and shape their play for hours to come

There is no doubt that my granddaughter Daisy loves books

Having a book read to her at bedtime is part of her daily routine, with extra opportunities for shared storytime at the weekends. 

She browses through her bookshelves at home and at school, and she is content in a local library where she can explore a range of books; now she likes to make her own selection of books to take home. Her school even sends a book home for her to read on a weekly basis as well. 

Yet there are occasions when a book becomes ‘more’ than a story for Daisy and can inspire her play ideas. I’ve been observing this ever since she was able to hold a book.

After reading Share! (by Anthea Simmons and Georgie Birkett) book she enjoyed matching the letters in the title with her magnetic letters.

A child places a magnet on the picture book Share! by Anthea Simmons and Georgie Birkett
Daisy loved letter matching with this picture book, Share!

After reading Thomas the Really Useful Engine, Daisy found her wooden bricks and Thomas toys so that she could recreate a 3D version of the bridge scene where the tractor Jack uses his front loader to support a crumbling bridge arch, as Thomas coasts over it, exclaiming “cinders and ashes!”

Witches, tigers and caterpillars

Meanwhile, Room on the Broom inspired Daisy to ride about on her broomstick and discover how to balance her cauldron and cat in place, just like the witch in the enchanting tale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

A child dressed as a witch holding a cauldron, a soft toy cat, and a toy broom
Is there ‘room on the broom’ for Daisy, her cauldron and her cat?

And having listened to Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Daisy found her soft toy tiger and held a tea party in her kitchen play area. (She’d already dressed up as Sophie, the heroine of the story, the year before.)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (another World Book Day icon) inspired Daisy to imitate the caterpillar and munch her way through some of the fruit and to taste most of the 10 items that the caterpillar ate on Saturday, in Eric Carle’s classic story. We also played a memory game based on the story, trying to remember the foods that the caterpillar munched on.

Now that we can spend more time together and we can cuddle up and share library books, there are more moments of inspiration. The latest book to kindle Daisy’s imagination is Paddington at the Carnival by Michael Bond, with illustrations by R.W. Alley. 

An adventure trail of vocabulary

The recent Paddington movies and animated TV series have captured Daisy’s attention, and now she enjoys reading her own set of Paddington stories, as well her Daddy’s old collection, and stories like this one from the local library.

At the carnival, Paddington and his friend Mr Gruber discover the Busy Bee Adventure Trail, which involves trying to find as many things as possible that begin with the letter B. After we had finished the book Daisy decided that we had to search and find things beginning with B! 

The search involved Daisy, her parents and grandparents and lasted all afternoon, across many locations: at home, in the car and in town. Daisy was determined that we should find more words beginning with B than Paddington managed (and he discovered 42!). 

A child reads a copy if Paddington at the Carnival, by Michael Bond with illustrations by R.W. Alley
Daisy loves a Paddington book – this one really sparked her imagination

This kind of play and activities help to reassure us that Daisy is listening and understanding the various stories in the books that have been read to her. 

Our conversations with Daisy and subsequent play also gave her the opportunity to use and surprise us with her new vocabulary. So, when we sat together playing with one of her Lego constructions, re-enacting a story, I shouldn’t have been surprised by an excited declaration: “that’s tremendous!

Granny Smith says 

  • A homemade alphabet adventure trail is a perfect way to extend young children’s vocabulary. With 26 letters in the alphabet there’s plenty of scope for multiple adventures!

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