On RJ’s bookshelf : Cloth Book Edition

Despite my overly-enthusiastic love for children’s books (also documented in Part I of this series here), it’s going to be years before RJ can read. For now, before she can properly flip the pages of her books, she enjoys experimenting with her cloth books.

Here’s a look the cloth books in our library for now.

Bilingual “shapes” book 

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Grabbed this for RM10 at the Mid Valley Baby Expo, which was my first ever baby fair experience. (I had no idea what to buy!) This is a small book with a teether/ toy ring, it makes crinkly sounds when you touch the pages. The shapes seen on the pages have both English and Chinese words written on them.

I thought it would be good to expose RJ to some mandarin words, even though we haven’t decided on what kind of schools we will send her to. D is not keen on Chinese schools. But that’s a debate for another day…

Animal cloth book

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This was a gift, we’re not sure where it came from. It is very large (bigger than baby’s face) so the animals are huuuuge to baby’s eyes. The colours are very striking and vivid too. Research shows that high contrast is a good way to stimulate babies’ vision from a young age, since sight is the least developed sense at birth.

Plus point for this book is the cute animal print, as we have a thing for animals here. We’ve been telling RJ the names of the animals and trying to get her to recognise them.

Five in the bed (2 in 1 puppet and board book) by Little Scholastic

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Just had to grab this when I saw it at the MPH Warehouse book sales in Bangunan Siti Hasmah, near Kiara Hill. It’s a puppet AND a book, definitely irresistible fascination for under-2s. The finger puppet is well made and features unusual animals from Australia – koala, cockatoo, emu, wombat, kangaroo.

RJ loves to stare at the puppets dancing. The book itself is a cute little ditty which you can easily weave into puppet play. The storyline is similar to “ten little monkeys jumping on the bed”. So as you read the story, the animals “fall down” one by one (by folding your finger down). Great quality and endless enjoyment for RM17.90, what’s not to love?

Funny pup (Giggle Jiggle Fun Books by Hinkler)

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This Australian plush book is super soft and cuddly, it’s almost like a pillow or soft toy. We were blessed to be gifted with this book during RJ’s full moon. Have not seen it for sale in Malaysian bookstores. I think it’s a nice touch that the colours have tones and gradients, unlike other plain colored cloth books. The dog’s paws are filled with beans, so it can stand upright. The tail has crinkly material inside, so it makes a rustling sound when touched.

A worthy offering by Hinkler, this toy book comes with a battery operated sound component. If you pull the little bow tie string that the dog is biting, the book will make some giggling sounds, as well as vibrate. RJ was really fascinated to hear the sound of the dog panting. It is a good way to introduce her to the concept of animal sounds, since we have yet to introduce her to D’s parents’ dog.

Skip Hop Soft Activity Book (Treetop Friends)

IMG_20150917_181930Another gift, one of our favorites. Doubt we would have paid for it on our own since the shipping fees and conversion rate do not work in our favour in Malaysia.

We were given this book since before RJ was born, so I had been letting her play with it for all these months without knowing what brand it was. Just before I sat down to write this post, I checked for the tag and was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s from a brand I’ve seen around before. Although, I did not know they sell cloth books. I had only seen their diaper bags, which are quite lovely.

Skip Hop makes high quality and innovative parenting essentials that are both stylish and practical. The goods do come with a high price tag, since it’s imported.

Here’s the part where I rave about the book and show the close up photos.

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Pull the owl out from his pocket (elastic attached)
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Flip open the window to reveal a mirror. Peek-a-boo!
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Press the mushroom to hear the squeeky sound
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It’s the fun elements and attention to detail that makes the book special

I’m glad to see RJ enjoying her cloth books for now. When she is older, I would like to introduce her to “quiet books”, also known as “busy books”. These are toddler activity books which involve various elements that the child can play and practice motor skills, such as zippers, shoelaces, buckles, pins, velcro, etc.

Here’s some examples of a nice Busy Book (via Mum in the Making)
Some Malaysian vendors for Quiet Book:
Tulip Petals
Lea With Luv 
Montessori Fun Play handmade quiet book
Little Q Craft Page
Mummy Orked (in Johor)
Little Heartwarmers (They have Muslim version too)

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On RJ’s bookshelf / September 2015 / 4 months +

20150908200412There’s nothing quite like the fresh scent of ink on paper and the rough caress of your finger turning a page. Old-fashioned books seem almost a novelty in this digital age, but as far as children are concerned, my bibliophile husband and I agree – print trumps pixels, every time.

There are many reasons to read to your child, not least being the sheer pleasure of curling up with a good book and a snuggly warm body to enjoy audible literature. At this stage, RJ is more interested in swiping at the pages and stuffing the book corners into her mouth. But she’ll get the hang of it soon enough.

I was surprised by the ingenuity of children’s books nowadays. It’s a new breed of board books with sticky tabs, magnets, stickers, pop-ups and other fancy bells and whistles. Heck, I’m practically buying them for myself, not baby!

Here’s three of RJ’s current favorite books.

20150908062618 (2) Curious George: My Growing World

A real gem we found at the Big Bad Wolf book fair, this board book folds out to become a measuring chart AND a story book. It even has a helpful record section to keep track of baby’s growth. Of course, i’m a sucker for such multi-tasking items. RJ’s favorite part of this book is the mirror, which she spends incessant time gazing at everyday.

I had to fold it up because it's too long to fit into the shot
I had to fold it up because it’s too long to fit into the shot
Cute stickers and a Record section to track baby's growth. I'm sold!
Cute stickers and a nifty Record section to track baby’s growth. I’m sold!

20150908062614 (1) Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes

We scored this classic for cheap, there seem to be many variants popping up at various books sales in KL (Book Excess, Times, MPH). I chose this version because I liked that there were some rarer rhymes inside.

The box set comes with three illustrated books inside: playtime rhymes, bedtime rhymes, and action rhymes. Each page has vibrant drawings that bring the classic nursery rhymes to life.

The bedtime rhymes group together a few simple favorites with good rhyme and metre to lull your little one into slumber. Playtime rhymes are more fun and the action rhymes have some instructions included so you and your child can act them out.

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Expect to see old ones like “ring a ring of roses”, “row, row, row your boat”, and “pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been”? There are some really odd ones which I’ve never heard before. Here’s one I really liked from the book, which almost seem like a tongue-twister.

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[ Aside: I’ve come to realise the violence, misogyny, racism, social segregation, etc in fairy tales and nursery rhymes, something I never noticed before. Still, I think i’ll let RJ read the stories and make up her own mind about it. ]

20150908062619 Animals Go

Of course, which baby’s childhood isn’t full of safari animals? Our venerable soft toy collection is practically a mini zoo (well, only 4 animals counts as mini, right?) and we had once thought of a gender-neutral animal-themed nursery back in the hazy days of early pregnancy.

RJ loves this book chiefly because the animals have 3D ridges for her to run her curious little fingers over. The high contrast in the colors and large, quirky illustrations are great to hold the little one’s attention. Each page has a close-up detail shot as well as a portrait with a verb describing the animal.

RJ's favorite page - the ladybug (or do you call it ladybird?)
RJ’s favorite page – the ladybug (or do you call it ladybird?)
My favorite page is this gorgeous peacock. Eye-popping details on the fan.
My favorite page is this gorgeous peacock. Eye-popping details on the fan.

Showing these animals to RJ is one of our ways to teach her about nature, a topic close to our hearts.

Since Daniel’s degree is in ecology and biodiversity, we often talk to RJ about animals, plants, and the ecosystem. During our evening walks, he would point out shrubs to her, let her feel the texture of the leaves, and explain about the process of photosynthesis.

When she’s bigger, we’ll let her collect the leaves and paste them in a scrapbook. She can write their names like a proper field experiment. Can’t wait for RJ to be old enough to read more interesting books. We hope she’ll grow up to love books as much as we do. Until then, we’ll keep reading to her. (Sometimes, even an Ikea catalogue will do…)

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Will post more about other books that we purchased for RJ, in the meantime, here’s some book-related links:

What are some of your children’s favorite books? Share with us.