Age Range: 0 to 5
If you were to ask me which picture book I would choose to take a baby from birth through to their early childhood I would definitely choose Dear Zoo. It’s a fabulous first book which is still enjoyed by my almost five year old.
The Story: A child has written to the zoo and asked them to send him / her a pet. Seven different animals are sent and then rejected for various reasons. Luckily the final pet is perfect (but I won’t spoil the surprise for those of you who don’t know the book!).
This simple, repetitive story is told in the first person. Each double page spread has text on the left and a flap to lift on the right, the reason for the rejection is given below the picture flap. None of the animals are named in the text, the picture tells the story and it is only when the reader lifts the flap that the animal is revealed. The bold, colourful picture on the page (the animal’s basket, box or cage) is surrounded by white space so that the reader only has the animal to focus on. This simplicity makes it appealing to babies, it helps a beginner reader focus on picture clues and also makes it a great book to read with children who don’t understand English.
I have used Dear Zoo many times in the classroom. It’s a wonderful stimulation for a wall display or class book and children love choosing their own animals to hide behind their flaps.
Dear Zoo celebrated its 30th birthday last year. There are many different Dear Zoo books and products which can be found on the Dear Zoo website.
This is a classic first picture book with wonderful animal surprises behind the flaps. Which picture book would you choose to take a child through their first five years?
Author / Illustrator: Rod Campbell