Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sheldon Sheep Soft Book (copy)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The carols ring in our ears as we push our carts through endless aisles in search of jaw-droppin’ gifts. We envision this ultimate present, one that causes sweeties to gush and relatives to praise as they unwrap with glee.

Giving books usually doesn’t generate these emotions. The receiver holds the obvious gift, no matter how wonderfully wrapped, as if receiving new underwear or socks. I’ve seen the look, especially from children, which makes me cringe.

Well, not anymore. I have found the perfect little book for infants up to age four. His name is Sheldon, and he is a soft book in the shape of an adorable sheep. His wool is luxuriously fluffy, plus his purple face beams with a pink-stitched nose and smile. As you unlock the velcro, he falls open to expose two material pages for a six-page rhyming story.

I envision Sheldon, or Shelly, becoming the teddy bear of future generations. He is the perfect means to instill a love of books and reading. If my name were Mrs. Jessica Mary Claus, I would gladly give one for each child born in the U.S. No need for a security blanket, just hand them Shelly.

Unfortunately, Shelly isn’t available at Wal-Mart or Target, yet. The only source I found was through Bas Bleu Catalog. If you are interested, you may purchase the Sheldon Sheep Soft Book at http://www.basbleu.com/ for $21.95 plus shipping.

Another way to instill a love of reading in children is the easy act of reading to them. I once had a patron who read to her unborn daughter while still in the womb. She would visit the library on her lunch break and read the picture books and nursery rhymes to her belly. Her eight-year-old daughter loves books and wants to become a teacher. Not bad.

Now, if my name were Mr. Santa Claus, I would give each new parent in the U.S. a copy of The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. I can hear the parent stammering, “Um, thank you,” not realizing they just received gold.

Author Trelease’s sixth edition packs a wallop. The book’s seven chapters contain ideas to encourage reading from infancy to young adult. He explains the techniques of reading aloud, including sad male reading statistics, and why it is so important to read. Over 100 pages are dedicated to book titles, which sex they appeal to, and their themes. A gift equal to a lump of gold, not coal.

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