Friday, December 9, 2011

Looking For a Fun & Educational Book for the Kids? {@CowsCantJump}

I've always been interested in how children learn. With my oldest, I was amazed to find he could suddenly do things that he didn't know how to do the day before. He taught himself to read seemingly overnight just after he turned four. Well, really he didn't - I just wasn't paying close enough attention to notice all of the little signs of reading that he had been showing. With Little Guy, I've been much more keen on every little thing he learns. Witnessing his speech go from babbles and coos to actual words was amazing! And I loved finding out that, although he didn't have the physical ability to say certain words, he knew what they meant when I said them to him. One particular thing I noticed in his speech and vocabulary development was that nouns came first. I "tested" my theory that this is the same for most toddlers while watching and listening to them talking to each other at the library. Their speech was mostly made up of nouns, with a few verbs and adverbs thrown in (usually due to a phrase that they often used, such as "Go bye-bye.")

Now that he's speaking very well, using full sentences and a wide array of words to express himself, I wanted to introduce him to new words. Since I believe heavily in unschooling, I didn't want to sit down and "teach" him these words. I wanted him to learn them in a way that was natural and fun. Boy, did I jump for joy when I received an offer to review two children's books that contain a ton of new words. Cows Can't Jump and Cows Can't Quack, written by Dave Reisman and illustrated by Jason A. Maas, are the perfect fit!

Cows Can't Jump starts with, "Cows can't jump... but they can swim." It goes through many different animals, starting with what the animal can't do, then showing what it can. The book moves from familiar verbs, such as swing, to those that children don't often hear very often, such as wallow. Cows Can't Quack is similar, except it uses animal sounds. I loved showing little guy what each of these new words meant. We wallowed in the blankets on the bed. We grunted loudly. We laughed quite a bit!

After asking me to read the two books about a zillion times withing a couple of hours of receiving them, Little Guy decided to read them to me. Then to his stuffed animals. And, when my oldest came home, he just had to read the books to him! Later that evening, as he was playing with his cars, I listened in on Little Guy's narration (he is always talking!) His BMW was "pouncing" on the Cadillac. The tow truck was talking to the bus with a series of clicks, just like dolphins. I was watching my little one practice his new words!

Another thing I observed him doing was building up his cars' self-esteem. (Yeah, I know it sounds weird!) But, at one point, he was using a piece of cardboard with a block under it as a ramp. One car would speed down, but the other one kept crashing half-way down. After a few times, my empathetic kid picked up the crashing car and said, "You can't race fast, but you can so stunts!" I'll be willing to bet that he made that car feel much better! He's also used this way of dealing with shortcomings on the cat and even me. And, just last night, after he tried to keep up with my oldest while playing a football video game that he kept losing, he was feeling pretty low. My oldest, being the big brother, kept saying things like, "Ha, ha! I win!" to him. (Yeah, I thought that sibling rivalries would be non-existent with 10 1/2 years between the two.) Little Guy was getting frustrated and feeling sad and I was just waiting for him to lose his composure. He came close, then he thought of something. "I can't win, but I can make pizza!" My oldest lost his interest in cooking early, an Little Guy knows he doesn't know how to cook much more than Ramen or a bowl of cereal. He made himself feel better AND stood up for himself in one sentence - and my oldest was dumbfounded! LOL

I highly recommend these two books to anyone with infants through preschoolers - even up to kids in elementary school who are learning to read. The illustrations are hilarious. You can check out some preview pages of Cows Can't Jump and Cows Can't Quack by clicking on the links. The books are are easy to read and interesting - something you often don't find in easy-readers. And, as I started off saying, they're educational without being "teachy", if you know what I mean. I am especially impressed with how, just by reading these books, Little Guy has managed to figure out how to deal with blows to his self-esteem (and his cars', too!)

Cows Can't Jump comes in paperback or board book, and Cows Can't Quack is available in paperback.You can order these books at Jumping Cow Press HERE. Shipping is only $1.99 for ANY quantity order in the U.S.! You can also find these books online at Barnes & Noble and You can also find Jumping Cow Press on Twitter and Facebook.

I'd like to thank Dave Reisman for sending me a copy of each book to review. My little guy absolutely loves them both and so do I! I can't help but wonder if there is anything else cows can't do...

Disclaimer: I received paperback copies of Cows Can't Jump and Cows Can't Quack, and a board book copy of Cows Can't Jump (all signed! YAY!) from Jumping Cow Press for the purpose of this review. I did not receive any other form of compensation. All opinions are my own.