In the first part of this book for emergent readers, friendly animals—a dog, sheep, and mouse—demonstrate the fun things that can be done with balls of various kinds. Balls can be big or small, bounce or roll, go up or down, make different noises, and so on. Animals juggle balls, play basketball, baseball, tennis, and other ball games. They go to the beach and the Ball House Café (with specials like “Matzo Ball Soup”). Children are invited to spell the word “ball” and to write it, whisper it, and shout it. Finally, the book suggests, you could grab a ball and play with a friend. Cheerful, colorful homemade-looking drawings help illustrate the concepts. Scanlon (My Toddler Talks: Strategies and Activities to Promote Your Child’s Language Development, 2012), a certified and licensed pediatric speech-language pathologist, asks parents to read the 17-page guide for parents before sitting down to read the book to children. The guide offers seven steps to success—e.g., “Focus on One Skill at a Time” or “Go on a Picture Walk”—while three action guides (on oral language, phonological awareness, and print awareness) offer examples, strategies, and exercises for enhancing reading readiness. Oral language, Scanlon says, can be improved through using an appropriate reading style (describer- or performance-oriented), making connections, providing synonyms and antonyms (examples are listed), and having children tell stories. Phonological awareness is also developed through attention to word sounds, such as rhyming and alliteration. To develop print awareness, parents can use strategies like following words with a finger while reading out loud and asking children why some words are bigger or colored a certain way. Also, several pages have blank spots for children to fill in information such as hometown or street address. All this may seem like overkill for a very simple book, but parents of children with language delays or anyone interested in language development will find this guide thorough and useful.
An amusing, educational book for kids and a helpful resource for parents.