Character-Building Kids Books: ‘Peck, Peck, Peck’ by Lucy Cousins | Encouraging Gender Equality, Independence & Perseverance 

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All book choices and opinions are my own.

 

img_3246We’ve made it our mission to seek out the very best children’s books to fill our twins’ library. After all, children are deeply impressionable – their minds are sponges, soaking up influences from all around them.

As parents, it’s up to us to provide resources that will nurture our little ones’ minds and personalities, embody the values we’d wish them to adopt and entertain and delight them to boot! The latter being arguably the most important, since a love of literacy opens the door to a bright and tolerant future.

We have a plethora of criteria that books should meet to make the cut. We rotate the books available to our boys, and at 12 months we have just 3 books in their book nook on the play-floor each week. We then have a wider range available for our family story time, and two favourite ‘sleep cue’ books that we read every night, right before bed.

As such, we want to make those few weekly books really count! Obviously we’re unlikely to find one single book that scores highly in every area, but our aim is that the library as a whole covers all bases.

The Criteria:

Is it enticing?
Books for the play-floor are displayed forward-facing, to encourage Sausage and Bean to help themselves and read independently. Thus,

books must be inviting to pick up in the first place!

Is it robust?
For a book to be included on our play-floor (with the twins being just a year old), it has to be hard-wearing. We save books with flaps or paper pages for our family story-time – when the adult holds the book.

Does it rhyme?
We consider rhyming to be essential for our story-time books, and desirable for our play-floor books. There are many developmental benefits of rhyming stories, but it’s also a personal preference – rhymes are more fun to hear, and more fun to read aloud too! Once the boys are older we’ll include more prose, but while they are pre-lingual we want to stick with stories that are aurally

pleasing as well as meaningful.

 Is it interactive?
Books that encourage some audience participation are a fabulous way of encouraging children to focus, and really engage with the story. It’s all about making literacy an attractive skill.

What about Gender Equality?
Enough already with the majority of books only featuring boys or silent women, or perpetuating gender stereotypes. Time to change the conversation, and we plan to start young!

What about Gentle/Respectful Parenting?
Until the boys are old enough to discuss the shortcomings of an un-gentle adult, or the feelings of a child who is being disrespected, we prefer to have books with good role-models!

What about Montessori?
Now we don’t go the whole hog with Montessori, rather we are influenced by it. We pick and choose the parts we like, and break other ‘rules’ wholesale! But I am including this section as I know we have followers who are interested in Montessori…

Useful as an early years Home-Education resource?
Obviously all books are useful for Home Ed – insofar as reading itself is an area of study. But Home Educators like to get plenty of bang for their buck, and so having educational avenues to explore only increases a book’s value.

Any extra developmental benefits?
Books that go above and beyond!

 

Peck, Peck, Peck by Lucy Cousins

What’s the plot?

A father woodpecker teaches his child to peck a hole in a tree. We then follow the baby bird as it finds many household items to peck – the pace increases throughout the story until each page is peppered with holes. In the end the baby bird excitedly reports its progress to its Daddy, and the book finishes in a shower of kisses.

 

Is it enticing?

The bright, sunny, yellow cover is appealing to the eye, and the 3D, tactile nature of the holes invites touch from tiny hands. The illustrations use bright colours and bold lines – high contrast images throughout. The graphology of the text is also engaging.

Is it robust?

This is a board book – perfect for unsupervised reading, as it’s well-made and stands up to punishment!

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Does it rhyme?

The book not only rhymes, but has an engaging rhythm and speeds up as the baby woodpecker gets carried away! It also includes lots of fun household vocabulary, as it finds new objects to peck.

Is it interactive?

The holes in each page cry out to be ‘pecked’ with a forefinger, and it gets quite addictive as the quantity of pecks per page increases. We have also found that it naturally evolves into a ‘pecking’ game, where we ‘peck, peck, peck’ various household items or body parts with a forefinger, e.g. ‘Peck, peck, peck your nose!’

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What about Gender Equality?

The father bird is portrayed in a nurturing, active parenting role (rather than leaving the child-rearing to the mother), and also demonstrates plenty of affection at the end.

What about Gentle/Respectful Parenting?

The book does feature the father giving some non-specific praise upon completion of the task. However, this can be given a GP slant as you chat to your child about the story – emphasising that it’s the progress that’s being praised, not the product. Alternatively, I may just take a sharpie to it and change, for example, the line ‘That’s fantastic’ to ‘You practised hard’. That way, Daddy is still offering praise, but it’s descriptive and effort- rather than results-based. How to praise to encourage intrinsic (rather than extrinsic) motivation.

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What about Montessori?

The birds are anthropomorphised and cartoon, whereas Montessori would always prefer realism. However, there is a big emphasis on independence, practice & repetition – all good Montessori ideals.

Useful as an early years Home-Education resource?

The book could be a jumping-off point for nature study or word play & rhyming. It also features a youngster who is engaging in self-directed learning (albeit after the original lesson from the father).

Any extra developmental benefits?

This book supports emerging fine motor skills, and later on we could quite easily make it into a threading activity with a shoelace!

You can purchase ‘Peck, Peck, Peck’ by Lucy Cousins here. On the off-chance anyone makes a purchase following this link, we’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to the customer – any proceeds will go towards funding the twins’ Home Education!

What are some of your favourite books? Any you’d like us to review? Let us know below…

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