Who am I? Cuddly Animals is a small board book written by Charlie Gardner and published in 2014.
This fun and interactive book deals with slightly complex concepts such as different kinds of animals and how those animals interact with their environment. I would recommend this book to children ages 18-36 months because of its rare words (for example, “grain” and “hutch”), its possibly unfamiliar animals (such as a guinea pig), and the interaction between the animals and their respective settings. However, younger children that are more advanced in their literacy skills can also enjoy the book for its bright realistic pictures and amusing interactive activities.
This book also includes a “peek-a-boo” feature in which a child can receive hints to the answers of the question by looking through the holes in the page. This not only helps the child perform well and receive positive reinforcement, but it will also help them recognise aspects of an image and relate it to the image as a whole.
Although the children may not recognise the reoccurring rare words, the context in which they are used (often accompanied by a picture that the word denotes) makes the presence of them less intimidating to the young child. It also helps that the book is abundant with repetition (every page has a similar format). This will encourage the children to predict what the next line will be or even to recite it with their parent. Along with these emergent literacy skills, this book also introduces children to some pre-math skills such as pairing the animal with their habitat, their common actions, and their sounds.
Most importantly, this book educates children both through reading and through action! According to Piaget, the development of motor skills are exceptionally important in helping a child this age learn new concepts and interact with their surroundings. Each page of this book asks a child to perform an action that relates to the animal on the page. These actions will help the child retain information while also physically engaging them with the book and having fun. This extension activity, along with asking the child more open-ended questions about the animal, (“where does this animal live? What does this animal like to eat?”) will make this book a favourite in their collection. This is a book that celebrates reading as a form of playful experience and not just static education.
This book gets a playful five flashlights!