If you are a close friend of mine that has had a baby in the last seven years, the likelihood that your child has received a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar from me is fairly high. I love books, and my favourites are still found in the ‘Children’s’ section. As a child I used to love writing my own short stories for my sister to enjoy and regularly read to both her and my youngest brother. In fact, I may have turned my Dad’s garage into a school which my sister and several of her large toys including ‘Dolly Anne’ and Chrissie the Giant Panda attended where I made workbooks and taught them how to read and write based on my observations of my teachers at primary school and how they accomplished this task with my classmates.
I don’t have children of my own, and my younger siblings are now all ‘grown up’ so now my crazy passion for encouraging kids to love books is taken out on my friends’ kids. Luckily my close friends are cool with this and their children accept my gifts of books every birthday and Christmas. One of my favourite memories of this summer was giving my godson his belated birthday present and having him barely talk to me (or anyone else) for an hour because he immediately started flicking through and reading Flat Stanley.
Although I’m totally anal about how my own books are kept (in pristine condition as possible and in their ‘place’) I do not expect kids to do the same. Especially when they are babies and toddlers. I strongly believe babies should be allowed to explore books whatever way they see fit. Whether it’s chewing them, wearing them as hats or doing strange things while working out how to turn the pages (even if the book is upside down) – this way books can be fun and there’s no pressure about reading them the ‘right’ way.
I was super happy to discover the cloth book version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar when I was searching out a copy for my friend’s baby girl last year (her brothers have it, but everyone should have their own copy, right?). This summer I may have bought all the copies available in Edinburgh’s bookshops. It’s great as it’s washable, can’t give you paper cuts, doesn’t hurt if you drop it and can be cuddled, felt, chewed on, puked on, dribbled on as well as read. 🙂
It is fantastic to see more books being published in creative ways. Whether it’s having different textures, or lift the flaps or books with no words at all…all of them contribute something to the world of literature.