I am stepping out of my comfort zone today and reviewing three secular books. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my Catholic books, especially the ones for kids. However, I want my son and his future siblings to have a well-rounded education and love of learning. And though my son isn't quite old enough for formal textbooks, it's never too early to start reading to your children. In my quest to find new and interesting things to read to my son, I stumbled across these gems, and I couldn't wait to spread the word.
If you've ever been on Amazon to shop for children's books, you know that you have thousands of options. The amount of books for children 2 and under is just under 40,000. With that many choices, what do you pick and what do you pass over? Well, if you're shopping for the youngest reader, you definitely want to try to get board books, because they are sturdy and should last you for more than one child. Next you want books with great pictures, because that will keep their interest. Lastly, you want books that you enjoy as well as them, because you will have to re-read them hundreds upon hundreds of times BabyLit delivers all three in spades!
If you've never heard of BabyLit, allow me to provide the briefest of descriptions. BabyLit is a series of board books based on classic literary tales, from authors like William Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll to name a few. Don't be intimidated at the idea of reading these authors to a baby. The books aren't the full stories, but instead draw elements of the story into a clever format and teach your children concepts such as counting, colors, opposites, etc. There are currently twelve volumes in the series, and I am going to provide a brief review of the latest three in the series.
Sherlock Holmes is the first in the BabyLit series to address the concept of sounds to your children. Some sounds your children will encounter include hounds howling, wheels clattering, and leaves rustling. Each of these sounds is appropriately illustrated with concepts from The Hound of Baskervilles. It is definitely a favorite of my son's as I try to really get into mimicking the sounds as they appear on the page. It is beautifully illustrated too, and would be my top choice if you are new to BabyLit.
Anna Karenina is billed as a "Fashion Primer." I would say this book is more aimed for the little girl than boy, but I wouldn't run away from this book if you only had a boy household. I say this because, BabyLit raised the bar with this book and apart from just putting pictures of clothing in the book, they made it a Question and Answer book as well. For example, Page 1 has the word "GOWN," and then asks if your child can also find the fan in the picture. Even though my son doesn't seem overly interested in this book, I love the Q and A concept they introduced as it makes the book more interactive than just reading the words and looking at the picture on the next page.
Jabberwocky is probably the toughest of the BabyLit books to review. If you have never read the poem by Lewis Carroll, this book will have you scratching your head and agreeing that this is appropriately called a "Nonsense Primer." If you have read the poem, expect an abridged version with the author omitting any mention of the vorpal sword and killing of the Jabberwocky. I am fine with this, as you don't want to introduce violence, killing, or death to a child that young. The book is very colorful, and it can be fun to occasionally try and pronounce made up words like borogoves and Bandersnatch. However, your child will eventually ask what those words mean, and I hope you can come up with a better explanation than I did. It's not my favorite BabyLit book, but I am definitely glad to have it as part of my collection!
Thank you for taking the time to read what I hope will be the first of many reviews geared toward parents and the homeschool crowd. I also want to send a TREMENDOUS thank you to Gibbs-Smith for providing me with review copies. Check out BabyLit's homepage here to see all twelve volumes in the set. They also have buttons, totes, playsets, dolls, and wall art, which you or your child might enjoy. You could also like their Facebook page and be on the lookout for occasional contests or Groupon deals. Lastly, keep your eyes peeled for future titles in this series. There are still a ton of Classics they haven't covered yet, leaving endless possibilities. I am personally holding out hope for The Jungle Book an Animal Primer or A Tale of Two Cities an Opposite Primer!