When your kids are two years apart, choosing bedtime books can be a challenge. Should you pick what the older one likes? But what about the younger one? And if you choose books for toddlers, the older one will get bored.
Here’s what we usually do. Mama and our younger son, Kostya, look at one sеt of books, and Kuzma and I at another. But sometimes the four of us want to read together. What to do then? One good option is poetry. Another is books based around pictures. For example, Richard Scarry’s Cars, Trucks and Things That Go Most recent English edition: HarperCollins Children's Books, 2018. ISBN: 9780007357383. .
The storyline is simple: a family of pigs goes on a picnic. They ride in a car. That’s basically it. But the storyline is by far not the most important thing.
By turning the pages, we travel with the characters and observe life on the road. And this life is bustling. We see several parallel stories, some of them a few pages long. In one, Officer Flossy chases a ruffian who knocked down all the parking meters.
The most exciting thing is that the book has lots of cars—real ones, like an ambulance, and completely made-up ones, like a shoe delivery car, or an alligator car.
These cars don’t just move. Either they’re a part of a story or a story in themselves. Here you see a tank truck in the shape of a cucumber. There’s a sign on it: “Pete’s Pickles.” You can try to guess where Pete is taking the pickles, and why they are flying out as the truck moves. Perhaps someone’s sitting inside of the tank and throwing them out? You can also discuss with the kids what can be pickled.
Some pages have a certain theme. For example, there’s a spread dedicated to military cars, and another about firefighters. They grab your attention: you can look at them and discuss them for a long time. Last time we discussed fire engines, since we went on a fire department tour recently.
In short, Cars, Trucks and Things That Go is a great starting point to have a conversation with your child, with plenty of hooks for that. For example, a drugstore delivery car has gigantic mortar and pestle on the roof. You can explain to your child what these objects are.
Recently I showed Kuzma a hay wagon and asked him if he knows where it takes the hay. “To the cows.” “But why?” “So they don’t eat people.” There you go. We had a laugh.
And what about the younger one? He just likes to look at the cars, poke them and recognize his favorite ones. Another bonus: there’s a little bug hidden on every page. Searching for it is a special treat. Every successful attempt is followed by a loud “He-e-ere!”
Translated from the Russian by Elizaveta Prudovskaya
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