As a follow-up to my post about reading physical books, here are a few of my favorite sensory books for all ages.
Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg. This book is so much fun to read and explore, and it also demonstrates a powerful lesson about mistakes and resilience. It’s pretty irresistible for ages 3-103.
Scanimation books from Rufus Butler Seder amaze me. They have won awards, are sold in museums all over the world, and continue to dazzle adults just as much (if not more) than children. I advise you to start with Waddle, then Gallop, then Swing. Or vice versa. Try them all. You’ll come back to them again and again.
Fluffy Chick and Friends by Roger Priddy is a perennial favorite in my program, along with the others from the same line: Fuzzy Bee and Squishy Turtle. When my friend Anelie visited from Germany with her baby (now toddler), Finn, he had the book in German and we compared notes on how the verse, which I had read so many times that I had it memorized, differed in the translation (turns out the German version is less poetic). Cloth books can be pricey to buy, but these particular ones hold up very well to repeated machine washings and all the brutality groups of babies can inflict on them. Take my advice and never run Squishy Turtle through the dryer by mistake, however.
I really can’t say enough wonderful things about Sandra Boynton’s books for children of every age. They make people happy and they’re always a lyrical, enjoyable read. They’re designed for reading aloud, which puts them in the sensory book category, I think, along with the likes of Shel Silverstein and Dr. Suess. Your Personal Penguin is one that I know for certain comes with a digital song download to enhance your experience. Perhaps some of her others do as well?
Roger Priddy and Eric Carle teamed up to create a series of “Slide and Find” books like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Slide and Find, which adds a level of interactivity to the traditional story that can’t be beat for toddlers. This book has been tried and tested in my program and it’s a hands-down success. I recommend it for both shared reading experiences and solo discovery (great for a car trip, when little hands are big enough to support the fairly heavy book). We have tried a few of the other “Slide and Find” books and also enjoy Priddy’s Trucks, which will hold attention and appeal through preschool.
Another delightful Eric Carle sensory experience is The Very Quiet Cricket, recommended for ages three and up. My preschool class never tired of the surprise of hearing the cricket sound at the end of the book. It prompted many thoughtful discussions about crickets, insects, and sounds. As a result of discussions started by this book, we spent one lovely afternoon relaxing to an insect sounds CD, eyes closed.
I’m not a huge fan of the “Play-a-Sound” books, with the panel of sound buttons to the right of the story. In my experience, they distract (like an enhanced e-book) from the book a little too much. I like my books a bit more simple. However, this version of Puppy and Friends is not too offensive and provides a great tactile experience as well. Recommended for toddlers, rather than infants (there is a little too much happening at once for the younger audience, in my opinion). Priddy offers a whole line of “Touch-and-Feel” books, sans sounds, which appeal to infants, including On the Farm and Mealtime.
Tails by Matthew Van Fleet has become a really popular sensory book — I see it everywhere! With good reason. It’s a wonderful concept (children are drawn to animal tails) and beautiful execution. It’s not as sturdy as a board book, which is something to be aware of with infants and young toddlers, but it’s a very tactile experience.
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