Idlewild Park before, which is a very kid-friendly amusement park located in Western, PA. I think it even claims to have been voted the best kid amusement park in the world?! (not sure voted by whom, though, and while it's a very good park - this statement is quite the stretch!). It has a "Ricky Raccoon" park with rides for toddlers and young children, "A Mister Rogers Neighborhood" that includes a trolley ride to meet all of the characters in the land of make believe, a "Soak Zone" with lots of water slides and an enormous swimming pool, and a "jumpin' jungle" that has things for young kids like a sack slide and giant net to climb. Of course, there is stuff for older kids and grown ups too in the "Olde Idlewild" part of the park like a merry-go-round, tilt-a-whirl, and the ricketiest wooden roller coaster I've ever seen; BUT, in my humble opinion (and mind you, I AM a bookworm) the best part of the park is its "Story Book Forest". Here, tales such as The Three Little Bears, The Billy Goats Gruff, and Little Red Riding Hood come alive. Here are some pictures to show you what I mean.
|Grandmother's house from Little Red Riding Hood|
|The Big Bad Wolf dressed as Granny|
|The smart pig who built his house out of bricks|
So to familiarize baby bookworm with these beloved stories and characters before going to Story Book Forest, I selected a few versions of these tales that appealed to toddlers. There are lots and lots of versions of these stories (Book Aunt does a WONDERFUL job at highlighting a bunch of fairy-tale books), but I was really looking for renditions that had bright pictures, and that retold the tale in as few words as possible. What we got:
Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales
by Lucy Cousins
If you are familiar with the Maisy book series, then you are familiar with Lucy Cousins' distinctive illustrations. They are simple, but bright and vibrant. In fact, they are so distinctive that when I picked this book off of the shelf, baby bookworm exclaimed, "Maisy"! I love the clever name for this collection of fairy tales which includes: Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Enormous Turnip, Henny Penny, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Little Red Hen, The Three Little Pigs, and The Musicians of Bremen. Some of the pictures are a tiny bit graphic (like the hunter chopping off the "big bad wolf's" head), so use your own discretion! I do think it is a nice collection that lends itself well to a toddler audience. Baby bookworm particularly likes The Three Billy Goats Gruff, for whatever reason!
|The Billy Goats Gruff at Idlewild|
|All that's left of the poor troll|
by Byron Barton
We actually got this book because it was coincidentally read during the family story time (the theme was houses, though, not fairy tales) and baby bookworm kept exclaiming, "Papa bear, papa bear!" Was it his cute little shorts that got her attention? I'm not sure, but even Miss Carla the story time leader noticed, so she suggested we take this one home with us. Barton's retelling of this story is very well suited to babies and toddlers (although I'm sure older kids would like it too) because it is written simply with colorful illustrations. By "simply" I mean that baby bookworm almost has this book memorized, which is great, really! She has even tried to say "mama bear, medium-sized bowl". The story of The Three Bears also has many great learning opportunities embedded in it (like the concept of small, medium, and large, just to name one) which is another reason this book gets a gold star in our eyes. Barton has written many children's books, and I really think bookworm and I will check out a few of his others.
|The Three Bear's "Real" House|
3). Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever
Ok, so not a fairy-tale book, but I came across this book while looking in the fairy-tale section, and I LOVE Richard Scarry's illustrations. Love, love. His Animal Nursery Tales book was one of my all-time favorites growing up, and baby bookworm and I read it often. So, when I saw this book on the shelf in the library, we had to get it for two reasons. One, Story Book Forest also features many nursery rhymes in addition to fairy tales, and two, nursery rhymes are a HUGE learning opportunity for young children because they teach phonemic awareness, an important skill in learning how to read. In fact, research has shown a strong link between knowledge of nursery rhymes and reading success. If you want some tips on how to use nursery rhymes as a learning tool, check out this paper: Nursery Rhymes and Phonemic Awareness. You better believe I will be using many of these suggestions!
|Rock-a-bye baby from Story Book Forest|