Picture books are great for introducing new experiences, new concepts or to support children through new experiences. Stories often do a much better job of explaining a situation to my daughter than I can, especially if she is already familiar with the characters. As well as being entertaining the stories take her through the steps that she may encounter when she experiences a situation for the first time and they also provide a stimulus for further discussion. I could have included so many more books in this post but here are some of those that for introducing new experiences that we have found most helpful.
Toilet training: I bought ‘I Want My Potty’ by Tony Ross because it showed the humorous side of using a potty. When the Little Princess decides that she doesn’t like nappies she is introduced to the potty which sometimes plays tricks on her, sometimes isn’t there when she needs it but ends up being fun. The simple repetitive text and the humorous pictures take the pressure out of what can be a stressful situation and as my daughter already loved the character she could relate to the story. Especially interesting to her was the final picture which shows what happens when you don’t get to a potty in time!
Author / Illustrator: Tony Ross / Little Princess website
Going to the dentist: I had no idea how to explain what a visit to the dentist involves but ‘Topsy and Tim Go to the Dentist’ was a great story to prepare my daughter for what to expect. The book introduces many aspects of the dentist’s surgery (including the funny smell) and sensitively deals with what happens when you don’t look after your teeth properly. Tim’s check up is shown and his teeth are fine but Topsy has to have a very small hole filled and the process is explained in a non frightening way. Topsy and Tim also meet a friend who needs braces and another friend who has toothache because he eats too many sweets. The bold, colourful illustrations support the simple but effective explanations in the text.
Starting school: My daughter is excited about starting school this year and we have read several books in preparation but ‘Franklin goes to School’ is her current favourite. Franklin is very excited about going to school but while he is waiting for the bus he gets nervous when he hears that some of his friends can already read and recognise numbers. A very supportive teacher, Mr. Owl, encourages Franklin to draw, which is something that he enjoys, and he has such a wonderful first day that he can’t wait to go again! Mr. Owl is portrayed as a sympathetic and caring teacher and my daughter’s favourite picture shows Franklin (a tortoise) sitting on Mr. Owl’s knee. The book effectively includes and deals with the mixed emotions that a child can feel when starting school and the classroom scenes are realistic and full of detail.
Learning about strangers: Teaching a child about how to react to strangers is hard, on the one hand a child needs to be aware that some strangers could pose a danger, on the other you really don’t want to scare the child. ‘The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers’ approaches the subject using apples. Sister is a very friendly bear and says hello to everybody whereas Brother is more cautious. Papa Bear’s attempt to explain stranger danger to Sister scares her so much that she is scared to go out but while Mama is making applesauce she compares funny shaped apples that taste good with good looking apples full of worms to show that looks can (sometimes) be deceiving. I find it a good, non threatening approach to explaining a difficult subject. Brother and Sister have written their own list of instructions about how to deal with strangers which has stimulated further discussion.
Authors / Illustrators: Stan and Jan Berenstain / The Berenstain Bears’ website
My daughter also likes Charlie and Lola by Lauren Child, Curious George by Margaret and H. A Rey and Froggy by Jonathan London, their stories also introduce children to new experiences and situations.
Can you recommend any books which are good for introducing new experiences? I would love to see your suggestions in the comments.