Every once in a while I'm asked to review something rather special, something which I look at and think to myself, "Wow, that is a very good idea indeed!" This is exactly how I feel about Baby Lit books, a range of nine colour and counting primer board books based on famous works of classical literature but aimed at babies and young children.
As a literature graduate and English teacher maybe I'm biased, but if so I make absolutely no apology for it!
I truly think Baby Lit is a lovely and very original idea. Take a great piece of literature, one that has withstood the test of time, and turn it into something unique for little ones to enjoy. That has got to be a recipe for success. Not only is it a thoughtful way of introducing children to some of your own favourite works of literature, but it is also a very individual method of bringing colours and numbers into their lives too.
Having studied and throughly enjoyed Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre at university, I was more than thrilled to review the two Baby Lit books based on these original classics, namely Little Master Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet and Little Miss Bronte: Jane Eyre!
My youngest daughter is just 17 months so I was excited to introduce her to these very beautiful and stylish books. In fact, I must confess, I don't think I'll be leaving her alone with them any time soon as I might just want to display them as pieces of art on my old dresser later on!
However, from the moment she set eyes on them it was clear we were onto winners. The colours, the illustrations, the chunkiness, the well chosen words - everything about these books draws a child's attention. Her little arms reached straight out and the biggest grin spread over her tiny face! Even my older children, aged 13, 9 and 7, thought the books were delightful and began squabbling over who would be first to read them to their baby sister...
Jack, my 7 year old son, won the battle and as he sat reading the books to Sophia, I watched her every reaction. Her little eyes darted from page to page and she smiled lots as she recognised images familiar to her. She pointed at little birds, pieces of fruit, trees, people, animals and reached out numerous times to grab and touch the books. There was no doubting her interest. Even after they had been read to her she wanted them read again... and again - always a good indicator! Like most children her age, Sophia does have some books already which are firm favourites and I knew instantly that these books will quickly join this select group.
Baby Lit books are intended not just as stories but also as counting and colour primers and since my daughter is just learning to count and is recognising some colours they were instantly attention grabbing for her. "1 balcony" is how Little Master Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet begins showing a lovely smiley Juliet standing on a brightly coloured balcony with love hearts on the windows behind her and overhanging roses above her. "2 loves" introduces us to the love aspect of the story with very modern looking intertwined hearts and the leters J and R within them. Moving into the book we are introduced to other scenes and characters and even a couple of well-chosen quotes. Simply stunning and such a lovely way to introduce Shakespeare to little ones.
Little Miss Bronte: Jane Eyre is no less enticing. With its striking cover art showing the governess Jane approaching a rather ominous looking Thornfield Hall, the book just begs to be opened.
We meet the wide eyed Jane in her sensible clothing and the book quickly leads us into the story with attractive art introducing important elements such as the 6 chalkboards illustrating Jane's teaching role in her job and Mr Rochester's interesting collection of insects - all the while helping children with numbers, colours and identifying objects. Again, a few choice quotations are included in the story and the whole book just leaps into life in your hands.
I love these books and am thrilled to be able to introduce my daughter to good old fashioned literature at such a young age. I am also pleased to think that these books and others in the series are available to a whole new generation of young children.
At the moment the nine books in the Baby Lit range are Moby Dick, Sense and Sensibility, Wuthering Heights, A Christmas Carol, Alice in Wonderland, Dracula, Pride and Prejudice as well as the aforementioned Romeo and Juliet and Jane Eyre.
I really look forward to seeing what comes next, but for now will relish in introducing numbers and colours to my daughter in such a beautifully novel way!
The Baby Lit series of sturdy board books are written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Alison Oliver. They are published by Gibbs Smith and retail at £5.99 in the UK. The full range is available from book shops nationwide or can be purchased on Amazon.co.uk.