The very first book I read to my older daughter was Nighty-Night from the Sesame Street collection. Although she was too young to respond to it, so soon after being born and what not, with time she grew to love it. I have lost count of the number of times I have read the book. Eyes & Nose, Fingers & Toes was another huge hit. The books were a gift from someone who had picked them up from the US. After that, I had looked for Sesame Street books in India, but couldn't find any as good.
Recently, a friend of mine visited us from the US. Before coming, she asked if there was anything I wanted from there. I remembered the Sesame Street books, and thought my younger one may enjoy them, especially since she just loves the characters and the games on the Sesame Street website.
I chose the Sesame Street 5-Minute Stories stories thinking it would be perfect for bedtime, and indeed it is!
Later, I realized the book is available on amazon in India too. So here is a review to help you decide if it is the right book for your child.
Genre: children, short stories, family, bedtime stories
Ages: 1 to 5 years
Publisher: Random House
Price: Rs. 874.00 on amazon
Each story takes about three to five minutes to read. The stories are long enough to be engaging and thought provoking, but short enough to be a pleasant bed time read for both parents and children. Reading to kids at bedtime is important, but unfinished stories may may leave kids too excited to sleep. Stories that are not sufficiently engaging may make bedtime reading boring for kids or a chore for parents.
Finishing a story gives a sense of satisfaction and closure and these stories are short enough that you can spend some time discussing one with your kid after reading it. These stories are bound to have your kids asking interesting questions.
5-minute stories give you some flexibility too, because on some days if you have more time, or if bed time reading lasts a little longer on weekends you can read 2 or even 3 of these stories.
The stories explore a variety of concepts or situations kids are likely to have to deal with, like getting caught in a thunderstorm, reading adventure stories, shadow puppets, getting new shoes, delaying bedtime, moving in to a new house, birthdays and so on. The stories are simple and engaging. Kids can identify with the characters and their situations but the stories don't preach about what is right or wrong. They just present the situations in a way that would encourage kids to think about what what they themselves may have done in a similar situation.
Although these stories have a significant amount of text, they also have lovely evocative illustrations featuring the much loved Muppets of Sesame street with easy to read body language and facial expressions.
I particularly liked the illustration of a jack being used as a jungle gym by the Twiddlebugs. It was a wonderful way to show relative sizes and how the same thing can be put to different uses in different circumstances. I had also never heard about a game of jacks so i looked it up and if you haven't heard of it you can look it up here. It sure looks like a lot of fun.
Something For Everyone
While some stories hint at imaginative and creative ideas for kids to explore at playtime, some focus on everyday issues or changes in life that kids have to deal with at home, in school, with siblings or with friends. While every story is fun to read, every kid will have a favorite. Either some situation or character they can particularly relate to or something they had fun learning about makes a particular story special to them. Then as a parent, be warned that you'll have to read that story so many times, you'll be able to recite it in your sleep. My own 4-year-old's favorite is Bert's Birthday.
The stories have a medley of colorful, quirky, characters differing widely in appearance. So, the book is a great way of introducing kids to the idea that the world is full of different types of people. We often fear the unfamiliar, or as a society demonize whole groups of people for looking different, or for choosing to follow a different set of beliefs or lifestyle than our own, even when they have done nothing to hurt us. This attitude usually stems from a fear of the unknown or unfamiliar. But taking the time to get to know people and understand them can broaden our horizons and expose us to new ideas and interesting perspectives.
My daughter for example, initially despised Oscar the grouch and all grouches after hearing just one story about him. She refused to let me read any more stories featuring Oscar. But slowly, as she would flip the pages of the book, she grew curious about Oscar and tentatively asked to be read one more Oscar story and then another. She has learned to look beyond his outward grime and grouchiness, to explore his odd interactions with the other characters and the interesting world in his trashcan.
Read It Again
Illustrated children's books can be quite expensive and don't take very long to finish. So, the best ones are those, that your kids enjoy reading or listening to over and over again. These stories have a lot of re-read value. We have already read most of them three times over and my daughter still aks for more. She is also trying to read bits of the stories on her own.
My 7 year old daughter loved reading these stories out loud to her younger 4 year old sister and they bonded beautifully over it.
Perfect book for bonding and bedtime.