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ToyDirectory Mom: Hands-on Books
By Racheal Mercer
December 1, 2002

Scruffy the Tugboat by Little Golden Books

Reading to me was a duty my parents took very seriously. As a child, I had a great collection of books-mostly hardback Little Golden Books. Scruffy the Tugboat and The Poky Little Puppy were two of my favorites. My son Payton has a book collection too, but his books look quite different from those I had as a young child.

For instance, Payton has a bath book made from cloth with a glove coming out of its bottom edges, allowing him to imitate the main character-an octopus. The book, titled Oliver in the Bath, is one in a set of interactive books for children developed by award-winning company LAMAZE. The books feature soft materials and padded pages, with colorful designs to teach children about shapes and colors. Look Baby comes with a detachable rattle, and Let’s Go Out has a vibrating mechanism inside to stimulate baby’s mind as well.

Red and Blue and Pooh Shapes, Too! by Mouse Works

Making Tracks, published by Tonka and Scholastic, is about big trucks that make big tracks, and features a spiral binding with rubber tire tread as its front and back covers. The book teaches children about dump trucks, front-end loaders, tow trucks and bulldozers. Even Payton’s father has fun with it!

A book that Payton has enjoyed since he was six or seven months old is Red and Blue and Pooh Shapes, Too! Published by Mouse Works (a Disney Company) the top of the book has a bar holding a yellow square, blue triangle and red circle-plastic shapes that spin on the bar as Payton moves them, while the story asks “Can you spin the blue triangle?” The book succeeds in teaching color and shapes alongside an entertaining story.

Bob’s Busy Hammer by Kiki Thorpe

Bob’s Busy Hammer is a big favorite in our house. The story follows Bob the Builder, star of his own television series, as he uses his hammer throughout the day. The book is shaped like a hammer, so that after reading, Payton can go around banging his book-hammer like it’s the real thing (thankfully, it is not).

What sets all of these books apart from the traditional children’s fare most of us grew up with is their willingness to incorporate different media to create an interactive experience. While my books were good stories, or fairy tales with a moral to learn from, Payton’s books encourage him to use his head and hands in the learning process. Whether it’s experiencing a hard rubber tire tread or spinning the yellow square, Payton is learning about language while developing hand-eye coordination, color recognition, and other necessary skills; something that can make even numerous readings of Bob’s Busy Hammer a bang-up experience for both of us.


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