This is the story of how and why I came to love noisy books. Already you are possibly reeling but I promise it is true. I recently saw a post on reading aloud to an impatient 11 month old (read here) and it got me thinking about a kind of book that many of us would probably rather avoid – the noisy book.
I’ve had my share of these and I will admit I have sometimes pretended that it is impossible to replace the battery when it thankfully ran out. Often they seemed to appear as gifts from sniggering uncles along with the trumpet and drum. However, I will confess I searched high and low for Noisy Noisy Grrr! when my toddler became so obsessed with it that he cried when he had to leave it behind at nursery. In fact he was so attached to it they broke the rules and let him take it home. In embarrassment I bought a copy and it was worth the investment. He took it everywhere and I bulk bought the batteries. And yes he did read it. Repeatedly. It is always hard to work out exactly what brings that level of attachment, but my feeling was that it was bright, clear, about animals which he liked and it talked back to him in an interactive way that books did not otherwise have six years ago. When I dug it out for this piece he greeted it with great joy and nostalgia (yes the batteries had gone).
It reminded me of all the reasons that noisy books are great if you can bear them. Boisterous books often suit boisterous children. That extra participation appeals to the kinaesthetic learners, a button to push and the satisfaction of a sound to match.
There is a strong educational case to make for these books too. If you are reading a book with symbols to push at key moments, your child is following the story and paying attention to the progress of the text. You are taking a book, holding it the right way up, turning the pages, following the text until the symbol pops up and then pushing the matching button. These are all essential, early skills needed to understand a book and how it is read. The reading is not just a passive act, it is a shared, fun experience and it is hard to emphasise quite how important and special that is.
So a few years on from our boardbook experiences it is those stories and reading sessions that I remember most clearly and fondly – yes, really.