Baby’s first library should contain a variety of books covering a range of topics such as animals, colors, letters of the alphabet, and counting numbers as well as a variety of activities such as touch-and-feel or lift-the-flap. We previously recommended “Pat the Bunny” as an example of a touch-and-feel book and now we suggest “Dear Zoo” as a classic lift-the-flap adventure. In the story a boy writes to the zoo and asks them to send him a pet. The zoo sends several animals, one at a time, that were not suitable to be the boy’s pet. Each animal hides in a box, under the bed, or in a closet for baby to discover when she lifts the flap which conceals the animal. The action of lifting the flap encourages some fine motor skill development or use of the pincer grasp. Once the animal is discovered the boy quickly sends him back to the zoo.
Babies love the activity and discovery with the lift-the-flap books. When parents read “Dear Zoo” over and over again spanning the course of several months the story predictable and promotes speech development for baby as he learns to say the names of the hidden animals or learns to say “send him back.” In our review of Dr. Seuss baby books we discussed the importance of repetition for speech development of a baby. In the above video from BrightFishSam’s youtube channel, the father has read this book many times to his son who enjoys blurting out the names of the animals. It is evident how much Sam loves discovering the animals and then sending them right back to the zoo. I guarantee he won’t be sending this book back to the library anytime soon.
Dear Zoo: by Rod Campbell. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982).