Tag Archives: Reading

Books and a board game

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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!

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Gajapati Kulapati

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All three boys are down with colds. Loud sneezes and runny noses are the current status update. Figured it was the right time to pull out a book I picked up recently – Gajapati Kulapati by Ashok Rajagopalan. (Tulika Publications)

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This is a fun and endearing story about a temple elephant who catches a bad cold. What with stuffy tickly noses and constant sneezes, my boys identified quite easily with the plight of the poor large elephant whose sneezes were blowing people off their feet! (ˆSmall noses catch small colds, Big noses catch big colds)

The story is very basic and while this was not a book i fell in love with when i bought it, the boys seem to have really liked it and want to read it over and over again. In fact, now when they hear someone sneeze, they immediately say ‘gajapati kulapati!!”

The story also introduces various people like the postman, the milkman, etc which is something my boys related to as well.

Pajama Time

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New book added to our collection – Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton…a gift to the boys from my cousin. They love it like they do all her other books…and so do I.

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It is super silly, has a nice rhyme and rhythm to it and talks about something as mundane as pajamas, turning it into something so fun…So for the last 2 nights, we have read this together after the boys had their evening shower and changed into their night clothes..cos that is the right time to read it…it’s pajama time!

I get the boys to join me as i read…the book reads almost like a song and both the twins jump around while i read it…they absolutely love the part that goes jamma jamma jamma jamma PJ!! We read it 2-3 times and every time they yell along for this part!

Finally, at the last reading, i slow down towards the end and get my voice to taper down to a whisper as the boys get into bed and lie down.

If you can get your hands on it, i would recommend it for you toddlers.

books we read at bedtime

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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’!

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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.  

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

Little reader

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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!!!

‘What shall I make?’ A fun book to read!

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I picked up a lovely book a couple of weeks ago. It’s called ‘What shall I make? (story by Nandini Nayar, illustrations by Proiti Roy). Somehow, when I first showed it to to my boys, they did not seem that interested in it…probably because i had also bought them tinkling anklets and a nesting doll at the same time. However, last evening we pulled it out as we were playing with some home-made play dough (you can check the recipe out in my earlier post).

The story is actually pretty simple and sweet…and imaginative. A little boy’s mum gives him a ball of dough while she is cooking and he plays with it, making all sorts of creatures…a snake, a mouse, a cat. Each page has lovely illustrations which not only complement the story but also show you how to make those animals yourself. Which is why i decided to read it while we played with dough ourselves.

This turned out to be loads of fun. For one, the twins related to it right away. They love hanging out in the kitchen and very often we give them a little ball of dough to play with when we are making chapatis/rotis.

They recognized all the animals in the book and were so excited when we made them with our dough as we read. The little dough mouse scurried all over their legs while loud miaos accompanied the cat. The lion chased me around the room with loud roars before being squeezed and rolled into a ball again….and again..and again! A little bit of dough, a little bit of imagination and we had such a blast!

Since we were using play dough, their ‘chapatis’ did not make it onto the pan, but i plan to have them roll out their own wheat flour chapatis this afternoon and read again with them. And hopefully that will get them excited about lunch too!

This is a lovely book that i relate to as well…because in addition to what it brings to the kids in the form of a story and illustrations, it also shows parents how easy and delightful it is to spend time with kids as we go through our daily chores. Kids love to imitate and mine also like to “help”. So we go to the market together (that again is a world of discoveries), sort veggies together, fold laundry too! And that is something the book brings for parents…this lovely realization that chores and family time need not be mundane or mutually exclusive…they can in fact be great opportunities to spend warm quality time together!

Reading with my boys

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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.

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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.

Cave Baby…a story and some painting!

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My boys love books…and a very close second favorite is painting…and crayoning. The crayons invaded our house when they boys were about 14 months old and they seem to be here for the long haul. We have crayon art on cupboards, walls and floors…pretty much everywhere other than on paper. In fact i stopped giving them paper to scribble on. In stead we work directly on the floor. The wax crayons are very easy to wipe off the floors – we have light colored ceramic tiles that make an excellent canvas for the boys – and once the boys are done, i give them a wet cloth or wipes to help me clean up!  But i think crayons deserve a post of their own and i will get to that in a bit. Right now i want to share a really fun reading – painting day that i had with the boys.

Last month i picked up a lovely book called Cave Baby by Julia Donaldson

I loved the story and the illustrations are absolutely stunning! Anyway, the boys were a little bored and did not feel like playing with their toys or puzzles, so I decided to show them the book. The book is about a cave baby who likes to paint and his adventures with a wooly mammoth, a hyena, a saber toothed tiger and more. The baby scribbles on the wall and that is where the story begins and ends.

We started out by looking at the cover. “What do you see boys?” i asked. “Elephant! Baby! color color painting!” were some of the more understandable replies. Yup – there was definitely all of that in the book. With their curiosity now aroused, we started reading. The boys identified with the story immediately! Especially with the painting on the wall. My best friend and i often paint on the walls in the kids room, adding every now and the to the existing wall art. And the boys crayon on the wall and sometimes run a brush of washable paint too, so the pictures got them super excited.

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We looked at each page and searched for all the fun elements in it. One of the boys wandered off and would join us whenever i resumed reading. each kid is different and one of my boys loves detail while the other is easily distracted. Anyway – this book is great for either type…it has a lovely, simple yet imaginative story and the illustrations make for great discussions and conversations.

We read the book together about three or four times and soon enough one of the twins was pretend reading along with me and finishing all the sentences. Then it was time for some action! I taped one sided paper on the walls and gave the boys brushes. I used old take home chinese carton lids as palettes and gave them a few blobs of ELC washable paint to use. The boys painted imaginary animals with spots and stripes and had a blast (this lasted all of 7 minutes). They still managed to get paint on the wall, which was fine because then i gave them wet wipes and they pretended to be the Cave Baby’s mum singing out “no more spots, no more stripes” as they cleaned. Of course, i Had to do a more thorough cleaning job after.

Our art activity ended with a nice soak in the tub. I used the paint left over on the plastic lids to make colored water. the boys had fun pouring the colored water from one container into another, watching the colors mix and then just generally splashing around.

I totally recommend this book and a follow up painting activity. It’s also a great way to introduce some prehistoric animals!