Tag Archives: Books

Books and a board game


This summer has been filled with books for us. In fact, since the past 4 months, we have dived headlong into the fascinating and magical world of Roald Dahl. And while the boys  boys are reading quite a lot of stuff on their own, we have been reading all our Roald Dahls together, snuggled by the book cupboard on our reading rug, or curled up comfortably on the bed before turning in for the day. We have gone through James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate factory, BFG (our favorite so far), Esio Trot, The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, and of course, The Enormous Crocodile. Each book has been a roller coaster ride and the BFG especially has given us so many fun things to joke about.

I came up with the idea of working with the kids to make a board game based on these books. The kids loved the idea and we started thinking about it very seriously. We sat down and first thought about the type of game we wanted. We decided on something similar in concept to Snakes and Ladders…with the snakes and ladders replaced by characters from the books.

The three boys had many discussions and we maintained a list in a notebook. We put down the good and “bad” characters and chose between different characters on the list. So, for example we chose between several Giants from the BFG and decided to go with the Blood Bottler. We felt we really needed to have Trunchbull to toss a player far far out and down. The board was to be a track …a chocolate river with different characters on different numbers who would wither help us move ahead or pull us back. The planning part took several days which were spread out over a couple of weeks.

Finally, once we felt satisfied with our choices of characters and different elements we made a rough sketch of what we thought it should look like.

Then I sat and sketched it out on a canvas and painted it with acrylic. The boys helped too and did some bits of the painting.

Finally it was ready and the boys could not wait to start playing. They have been playing on it constantly since it got done a couple of days ago and are still coming up with thoughts and ideas for potential additions.

This was a great exercise because it allowed the boys to think much harder about different characters, about their specific likes and dislikes in the books as well as their ability to contribute to making the game more exciting. We had healthy (and not such healthy) discussions on the choice of giants and witches and the colors to be used but we completely enjoyed the process. And now the boys are so thrilled with it..they are proud of their ideas, super kicked when someone gets stuck on Veruca Salt’s old bubblegum or gets flung by the Trunchbull. It is even more exciting to land on a spot where the BFG gently blows you with his dreams into a sweeter spot or when you can jump on jelly beans to a higher number. It is great for practicing math skills too – as the kids are recognizing numbers on dice counting, counting on, adding, subtracting and strategizing. But more than anything else, is is plain and simple fun!



Reading Swimmy by Leo Lionni




I was near Fort yesterday for some work and popped into Kitab Khana for a bit right after…it was supposed to be a quick in and out…but i emerged with a bag full of delightful books for the boys. I love the kids section there – well stocked, well catalogued, enough space to sit and browse. One of the books i picked up was Swimmy by Leo Lionni.



This is the first book by Leo Lionni that i have got for the boys and they were of course most excited (not because of Leo Lionni but because it was a NEW book!)




We started out by looking at the cover. “What do you think this book is about?” i asked. “Fish” came the prompt reply. We looked at the cover a little more and i asked if they could figure out which fish it was about. After looking at it for a bit, Nish asked if it was the “black one”. Then we moved on to read the book.  I pointed to the art as we started reading and we identified what looked like block prints. (we have been doing a lot of printing of late)


The story is absolutely delightful and one that the boys just loved. The idea of a whole group of small fish getting together to look like a large fish was cool and they really liked how the small fish were able to scare off the larger fish with their ingenuity. The book brought out various concepts – creative thinking, bravery, working together, making the most of a situation…while i did not dwell too much on these yet at the initial reading, they are definitely themes that i see myself coming back to. (this also lends itself to the book being read to a large range of ages)


The author’s creativity comes through in almost every page…his descriptions are so lovely.. anemones that are like pink palm trees and medusas with rainbow jelly are such pretty images more mentally and how he expresses them on paper through his art.  The text and illustrations complement each other and create room for many conversations around the text and more.


After reading the book thrice together last night and twice first thing in the morning i asked the boys if they wanted to try doing some art like the kind in the book. Nish loved the jelly fish and wanted to make something like that. So i cut up papers painted by the boys over the last few days in different shapes. With the jellyfish in mind, i made long strips and a semi circle, i did some almond shapes and triangles for fish and then i made a bunch of circles, triangles, squares and rectangles.


We took one-sided paper that i had folded into little cards with the blank side out and the print inside. I gave the boys some ‘Joker gum’ (which is like a rice paste kind of glue) and we got started. Sid decided to make the jellyfish instead of Nish and i showed him the pic from the book. In the beginning, i put the glue on the paper for them, but fairly dissatisfied with the speed of my work, they took matters into their own hands and got to sticking in earnest. N made a fish and then moved on to making a fire engine and truck (the fire engine looks like a pice of deconstructed art with its individual parts pasted almost separately).


At one point, when Nish was making his fire engine, he picked a big triangle for the body..i almost told him to take a rectangle instead – i thought it should have been an obvious choice (he used a rectangle for the truck), but then i refrained from doing so…this was after all his art and it was up to him to make these choices.


We had a lovely morning and came up with some delightful art too!

(this is a pic of the medusa from the book)



(here is what the boys came up with)


books we read at bedtime


Reading is something I personally love and I am glad that the boys enjoy books too. One of my twins especially cannot do without his books and reading time. We read multiple times in the day but I try to read every night at bedtime for sure. I am putting down a few of the books that I find good for bedtime reading.

ImageGoodnight moon (Margaret Wise Brown): An all time favorite with so many kids, i discovered that both my twins love this book. It is easy to read, has no complex plot, fairly detailed illustrations and nice rhyme. What i like about it is that it turns the most banal stuff around us into a story! clocks and socks and kittens and mittens and moon and balloons! It is soothing to read and almost makes me think of a book version of actually shutting down windows, browsers and docs before turning off my comp. There is a comforting routine to the book..saying goodnight to things around before turning in for the night! And Sid loves the ‘old lady whispering hush’!


Night Night Little Pookie: This is a part of the Pookie series by Sandra Boynton. It is a very easy read, has a bit of dialogue where my kids pitch in…they love this part actually (it’s also there in the other pookie books we have). They also relate to some of the stuff that pookie does and at times they try to act a little like him! It’s a fun book!

Caillou Bath Time: Another book that my boys relate to very easily…it talks about Caillou playing in the park, getting dirty and then coming home to nice bath followed by bedtime. Just like Caillou, my boys like to take their ducks and toys into the tub and they like seeing him do that in the book.  


All three of these are wonderful books that we like to read quite regularly!

music with the boys


All three boys enjoy music – i usually sing to them when they sleep and we always have music playing their room. Over the last couple of months i have started trying to get them to sing with me and the guitar. The boys also like to dance to the music on the guitar and occasionally sid bangs on his drum when we sing. I have a really nice book called Animal Piggyback songs which has a wonderful collection of songs.

Piggyback Songs are basically songs with familiar tunes and new words. So for example, this book has 6-7 fixed tunes like row row row your boat, farmer in the dell, frere jacques, down by the station, twinkle twinkle etc. and really nice simple animal songs to those tunes. The songs are largely on the pentatonic scale – mainly C, G, F, D, A. So you don’t have to be a pro at the guitar to do this. Also, the book is easy to read and made for people who cannot read musical notations. While i have only one of these, there are more by the same author: Jean Warren. 

I tell the boys the words before we start singing so they are familiar with them. They usually finish the sentences for me…not sing the whole line. Some of these songs have actions too so we can incorporate music with movement. for example, ‘animal hokey pokey‘ or animal movements like hopping like rabbit, slither like a snake. the boys enjoy this part.

i have noticed that nish likes to sing along while sid prefers to bang on the drum or shake his leg to the beat. in fact i recently showed the a video clip on fb of a friend’s son playing the tabla and sid loved it. and yesterday when we were listening to some classical hindustani music he was able to identify the sound of the tabla in it.

the music sessions are short…about 10 to 15 minutes each time but now the boys seem to want it regularly which is nice. i also let them play with bells and got them an anklet so it tinkles when they tap their feet. they have toy flutes (i put these away for now because they tried to bonk each other with them) and i let them try my harmonica from time to time. 

would love to hear suggestions on other stuff we can do together with music. we all love music and its fun to see the boys sing and be silly too! 

Little reader



Ameya – my youngest – has already started to enjoy books. At four months and a few days, he loves to sit in my lap or lie on his tummy with a nice cloth book. There are two books that he especially enjoys – fuzzy bee and friends and squishy turtle and friends.  His smiles and coos when i am reading to him and reaches out to touch the pictures. The books is made of cloth and is easy to hold. both books have a great variety of textures.. to touch, pull, poke, etc. which he loves.  he even lies down by himself and plays with the book. A great starting point!!!

Reading with my boys



It’s never too early to start reading with kids. I read Ameya (my youngest boy) his first book last week, when he turned 3 months old. We read a lovely book called Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton. Siddhant picked this one out for Ameya because it used to be his favorite book for the longest time. I think my baby liked it…he stared at the pages and smiled as i read. Since then, we have been regularly looking at Moo Baa La La La as well as a couple of bath books.

By default, Ameya gets read to all the time. Right from when I was carrying him, he has been exposed to a range of kids’ books because my twins really enjoy reading. While Siddhant likes to sit with a book and have me read to him before bed, Nishant wants to read all day. I started reading to them when they were about 3 months old too and it is interesting to note how many of their pictures indoor are with books.

I started with a few Sandra Boynton books – Moo Baa La La La, What’s wrong little Pookie?, Belly Button Book. Till the boys were about 9 months old, Moo Baa was their absolute favorite. Boynton has a very fun and simple style of writing and the illustrations are adorable.

The boys also loved Brown Bear Brown Bear, What do you see? and Polar Bear Polar Bear What do you hear – by Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr. These books went everywhere with us! They are again – simple, repetitive and therefore predictable with absolutely stunning illustrations. Also a great way to introduce kids to a lot of animals. In fact, I found them really useful because the kids were seeing some of the birds and animals around them and they would immediately make connections to the books!  My twins also loved books that provided a sensory experience – so, books with textures, sound, colors.

If you are planning to read with you kids, be prepared to read the same book over and over and over again, over days, weeks and sometimes even months. I found that my boys loved to read the same books till they had almost ‘mastered’ them. What is wonderful though, is that they continue to be excited, amused and fascinated by the story even though it may be the hundredth time we are reading it.

I don’t just read the story out to them. We spend a lot of time looking at images, meta-text, guessing, retelling. I did this because i enjoyed it but i realized how much the boys were getting when we saw an Eric Carle book at a friend’s place and the boys looked at the artwork and immediately said – “capertiller!!!” (referring to the Very Hungry Caterpillar). Nishant makes connections across books, connections between text and the real world and vice versa. It is fascinating to watch.

We have turned reading into almost a ritual…and it is funny to see how much the twins value this ritual. We have reading cushions in their room. So before we start, we prop the cushions up against the wall and sit down on the mattress leaning against our cushions. Then the boys get up and pick out what they want to read from the book tray. I usually sit in the middle and hold the book so both the boys can see. I started out with board books because i wanted my boys to be able to handle the books. So they would hold them, try to flip the pages, and sometimes drool on them and chew them. I never said NO to any of this because i wanted books to be something they found accessible, fun and theirs! I would (and still do) read and re-read and then re-read again as many times as they wanted me to. Soon they would finish my sentences for me. And then, when they were playing by themselves, they would pick out the book and ‘read it’ to themselves, often adding their own bits.


It’s not like all kids want to read. While Nishant absolutely loves books and can spend big chunks of time being read to, Siddhant gets easily distracted and prefers quicker, shorter reading sessions. He sometimes wanders off in the middle of a read aloud, or says “all done!” and shuts the book. I try to continue reading if he is within earshot or in the room and will try to engage him by asking questions.  I don’t want to force him because i would like to keep reading a fun activity that the boys enjoy.

I am putting down a list of some books my kids love. They are currently 23 months old so some of the books in this list may not work for very small babies:

  1. Moo Baa La La La           Sandra Boynton
  2. Barnyard Bath                 Sandra Boynton
  3. Hippos go berserk          Sandra Boyton
  4. Belly Button Book           Sandra Boyton
  5. Pookie books                  Sandra Boynton
  6. The Going to Bed Book   Sandra Boynton
  7. Polar Bear Polar Bear      Eric Carle
  8. Brown Bear Brown Bear  Eric Carle
  9. From Head to Toe           Eric Carle
  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar    Carle
  11. Draw me a star               Eric Carle
  12. The very grouchy ladybug      Carle
  13. The Wheels on the Bus (raffi)
  14. Five little ducks (raffi)
  15. One fish Two fish                  Dr. Seuss
  16. The Foot book                      Dr. Seuss
  17. Hop on Pop                          Dr. Seuss
  18. Cave Baby                            Julia Donaldson
  19. Gruffalo                                 Julia Donaldson
  20. Goodnight Moon                   Margaret Wise Brown
  21. The Runaway Bunny             Margaret Wise Brown
  22. Peek-a boo I Love You
  23. Peek-a-boo Sleepy Baby
  24. Squishy Turtle and Friends   Roger Priddy (cloth book with textures)
  25. Fuzzy Bee and Friends         Roger Priddy (cloth books with textures)
  26. Little Blue Truck                   Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry
  27. Where the wild things are     Maurice Sendak
  28. Happy in my nappy
  29. My new baby                       Rachel Fuller
  30. Head, shoulder, knees and toes   Annie Kubler

This is just a list to get you started. I will also start doing book reviews with reading suggestions and activities for this list.