Saturday, April 20, 2013

Brown Watson books (and where to buy English books in Jakarta)

It’s very important for me to have my child be interested in books. And it’s solely my responsibility to make him & keep him interested in books from the very beginning. It doesn’t matter if they’re just cartoons or if I have to read each book 1275 times. Kinokuniya book store (The only book store other than perhaps Periplus that stocks a good deal of English books in Jakarta) is conveniently next to my grocery store and I usually step in for half hour or so before grabbing the grocery shopping cart. (Although I don’t bother browsing books for me, as ebooks from Amazon or even paperbacks back home in India are at least half the price compared to sky high prices in Indonesia!)
It takes a loooong time to select a book, because before I think of what may appeal to my kid, I have to think of what appeals to me first, to have the patience to read it enthusiastically each of those 1275 times! I am very particular about illustrations more than anything. I believe there is no point buying toddlers’ books with illustrations that are “artsy”, or too small, colourless, too vague or too few in number. In the end of the day, a cow needs to look like a cow! And although you can simplify & customize the story, toddlers will connect primarily through the pictures- so there must be a correct correlation between the picture and what I’m narrating! So If I say little Ms. muffet is frightened, it must LOOK like she’s frightened!
I have several puppet books, Barney books, Disney books, book of 1000 words etc. (I can rattle off their contents in my sleep now), but I want to particularly highlight Brown Watson Children’s books. Here are a few we have and have loved:

ABC Alphabet. 

No, don’t worry, I DON’T have any targets set for my tiny tot to achieve, to master the ABCs by so & so age. I couldn’t care less. But take a look at the illustrations! They’re so adorable and descriptive! And I LOVE the thoughtful 1 paragraph story that is given to each alphabet/animal. For Eg: why do giraffes have long necks? Cuz there was hardly enough food for all of animal kingdom and so the giraffe grew its long neck to reach high up to the tree – tops where other animals couldn’t reach!

123 Counting on the farm.
Again! No targets! But it’s a nice way to introduce him to the concept of counting. Starting with the farmer asks 1 dog “where are the sheep?” Then the dog asks 2 horses, 3 cows, 4 goats… & so on. It’s so cool that I recommended it to a fellow shopper in the book store, who in turn recommended it to her sister who had come along too!

Good Night Stories & Rhymes.

He has driven me a bit crazy over this one, cuz he loves it when I sing to him (only your baby can love your voice unconditionally!). This ones the best amongst any rhymes book I’ve come across. My pals Mr. Google & Mr Youtube helped me figure the tunes to some rhymes that I’d never heard of. But many others I simply made up my own tunes! The stories are fun too: The forgetful witch’s cat, a car that was abandoned and then converted to a playground, teddy bear’s surprise birthday party.

I’ve seen a shelf full of “large print”, “now I can read” collections and I’m dying to buy those. For now, I’ve bought a Fairy Tales book containing some classics such as Goldilocks, Pinocchio& Red Riding Hood, that I shall start reading to him soon. Any suggestions for toddlers’ books are welcome!

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