Little Bookclub: Exploring sounds

I am always hunting for new books for ToddlerGirl and I to read together, which has inspired me to start a Little Bookclub on the blog. Each month, I’ll put together a list of books around a specific theme for us to read. Hopefully this will lead to some exciting new discoveries. Some may be books we already own, others finds from the library or maybe some titles from my wishlist. We’ll test them out and see how we get on with them; hopefully try out a related activity or two if I am feeling inspired!

For our first Little Bookclub, I’ve been tracking down books dealing with different sounds and making a noise. What I had in mind when I set out to find the book selection were stories that have fun with the concepts of loud and quiet as well as playing with rhymes and sounds of different words. I thought perhaps there might be some music thrown in somewhere and I was quite sure there would be animal noises. I didn’t want to look at noisy books; we already have a couple of these and ToddlerGirl enjoys them, but I wanted to focus on the sounds of the words rather than pressing buttons.

Here is what I have come up with…

Kipper: Splosh, by Mick Inkpen
This is a simple picture book featuring Kipper the Dog with his friends, exploring the sounds of a wet day. After a couple of readings, I was a bit bored – but ToddlerGirl is clearly taken with it as she has been repeatedly finding it in her book basket and bringing it over for me to read! A lesson for me that I cannot dismiss a book for her simply because it’s not one I enjoy. The illustrations are lovely and clear, with sweet animals and expressions and lots of white space, so this may be one of the reasons that ToddlerGirl likes to look at it so often. There is very little text on each page, with an emphasis on the sounds, such as the ‘drip, drip, drip’ of water off Hedgehog’s nose, ‘splosh’ as the friends end up in a puddle and (ToddlerGirl’s favourite) the Hedgehog sneezing ‘aaaatischoo’. A simple and engaging read, particularly good on a rainy day!

Toddle Waddle by Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt
Oh, how I love love love this book! I have a bit of a thing for Julia Donaldson to be honest and am working up to owning a complete library of all her children’s books. This one is in partnership with Nick Sharratt, whose illustrations are wonderfully bold and bright. A toddler goes for a walk and ends up with an eclectic entourage, including a dog, a snail, a bicycle and a horse. The text is incredibly simple, pared down to a sound associated with each new character, starting with the toddler and a duck (hence the ‘toddle waddle’). This builds throughout the book until you have a whole chain of these sounds. It is great fun to read as the sound of each word or phrase is centre stage. OK, so I love it but what about ToddlerGirl? It’s safe to say she enjoys it as much as I do, judging by the number of times it has been thrown in my lap. She giggles her way through and spends a long time examining the pictures as they become more detailed. This is definitely a book to read aloud, so it is perfect for toddlers. We have a library copy and I am very reluctant to return it!

Dig, Dig, Digging, Margaret Mayo
I spotted this at the library and am glad I picked it up as it really fits our ‘exploring sound’ theme perfectly. Each page introduces a new type of construction/noisy vehicle, with the sounds that they make and the jobs that they do. The text has a lovely rhythm and repetition so it is a good choice for reading aloud. It is probably ToddlerGirl’s least favourite book in our selection but it still definitely has toddler appeal. I noticed that the authors have produced a couple of books in a similar vein, so we’ll be checking them out too at some point!

The Listening Walk, Paul Showers
The idea of this book grabbed me immediately: heading out for a walk but taking the time to listen carefully to all the sounds around you as you go. After many readings, this is proving to be a popular choice with both of us. The illustrations by Aliki are soft and rounded, with a chunky feel, and bring the text to life perfectly. The text is quite detailed for a small toddler; I think the book is aimed at slightly older children but this hasn’t been a problem as I simply edit it slightly when reading. I also have to edit out the Americanisms as unfortunately there isn’t a UK edition (that I could find, anyway). Again, this isn’t a problem while I am the reader as I can easily substitute ‘pavement’ for ‘sidewalk’. We follow a little girl on a walk with her father. They do not talk, they simply listen to all the sounds around them – from the bustle and noise on the streets, to the calm sounds of the park. There are lots of opportunities to make the various sounds the girl hears, which by and large are really nicely and cleverly interpreted on paper. The ending invites us to take our own listening walk, or even to sit back quietly and listen to the sounds all around us in our home. ToddlerGirl has been very taken with this and we have already taken a few listening walks of our own!

Honey Hill’s Noisy Day
It’s Music Day at Honey Hill and the friends are practicing with their instruments before their performance. This is the very straightforward premise of the book and it is all you need! ToddlerGirl was immediately taken by the colourful illustrations showing the animal friends playing a variety of instruments, such as a piano, the maracas and the cymbals. Each one is accompanied by words describing the sounds these make, so it is great fun to read aloud. The final double page spread is very clever, with lift the flap theatre curtains opening to reveal everyone performing on stage and another chance to go through all the musical sounds again. It’s a really short, simple book but we have managed to get a lot of mileage out of it.

A couple of bonus books that I just couldn’t leave off this list… We already have read both of these to death so I haven’t specifically included them in our Little Bookclub selection, but they are really good additions to a noise/sound themed book selection. Mr Brown Can Moo by Dr Seuss is brilliantly fun as it takes you through all the wonderful noises Mr Brown can do (these aren’t just animal noises) and then encourages you to have a go at them yourself. ToddlerGirl already loves this, even though she can only do a couple of the noises at the moment, so it will be great when she is joining in on them all! The second book is the classic We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, which has some lovely onomatopoeic descriptions of the family’s journey to find the bear: swishy swashy through the long grass, squelch squerch through the mud, splash splosh through the river and so on. Another book both ToddlerGirl and I love!

I’d love to hear from you if you have read, or been inspired to read any of the books in our exploring sound selection. What books would you include on a noise/sound themed list?

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