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Frequently Asked Questions

Parents

How can Ladybird Books help my child to learn?

Browse our Ladybird Milestones: Age and Stage area for more information on how Ladybird Books can be used to aid your child's learning or email for advice at ladybird@uk.penguingroup.com. 

 

Very First Book (Birth ­ 18 months)

What sort of books are best for very young babies?

Sharing a book with your newborn may sound a little odd, but the tiniest babies can get a lot out of that first book experience. Soft cloth books with interesting crinkle noises, mirrors or textures are ideal. Try propping them up next to your baby's changing mat or baby gym to allow them to safely explore the pages. Books with bright, bold images are excellent as babies can only see very high-contrast colours such as black, white, yellow and red in their first few months. As their sight slowly develops you may find your baby transfixed by bright patterns and colours!

 

Will my baby really get anything out of me reading to her? She is only 6 months old!

Hearing a familiar voice is very comforting for your baby, so try to talk to them as much as possible. It doesn't matter what you read out loud at this stage, it could even be the back of a cereal packet! Songs, lullabies and rhymes are also great, as your baby simply loves hearing the tone of your voice as it rises and falls.

 

I feel so silly reading aloud to my baby, trying to do funny voices and animal noises!

Please don't feel silly, we bet you're much better at reading to her than you think you are! Remember, your baby doesn't mind if your animal noises are a bit odd, she just loves hearing your voice. Books that have a game such as peekaboo, are really helpful as it's easy to know when to say "Peekaboo!" or "Who's there?"

 

I prefer to take my phone when we're out and about, not heavy books, but I feel guilty! Should I be discouraging her from apps?

Don't feel guilty! We think apps can be just as fun, educational and interactive as books — the key is to find apps that are specially designed for young children so they are not just looking passively at a screen, but actively learning and being stimulated. If you need to travel light then why not squish a soft cloth book in your buggy as well?

 

Walking & Talking (18 months ­ 3 years)

My little one has recently begun walking and talking, what books would you recommend?

A child’s development is at fever pitch during this time so try engaging busy toddlers with books that include lift­the­flaps, sound buttons, simple rhyming text and textures to feel. It’s also a good time to introduce key early learning skills such as first words, colours and numbers. First gentle non­-fiction books are great for this stage to show your child more about the world around them and help teach key vocabulary. Toddlers are often obsessed with different topics, from pirates to puppies, so try choosing books that will spark their interest. We also recommend action books that show the moves to a popular song or rhyme to encourage your toddler to imitate movements and improve your toddler’s coordination.

 

I think my toddler would enjoy a good story now — what do you recommend?

Begin by reading simple, short stories with lots of pictures and a manageable amount of text for short attention spans. Try abridged fairy tales or books with rhyming text. As your child becomes more familiar with the stories and rhythm of the words he’ll love joining in!

 

Noisy sound books drive me round the bend! Why are they good for kids?

It’s true, the constant pressing of sound buttons can be a bit wearing! However, children love to be in control of things and feel empowered, so pressing the buttons is a great way of getting them to join in and interact with the book. They also help in beginning to link sounds to words and pictures, so a farm sound book helps children to understand that a sheep says ‘baaa’ and a cow ‘mooo’.

 

Language development (18 months ­ 3 years)

Why do kids like rhyme and how is it useful?

Rhymes play a major part in the speech development as they help children understand the pattern and rhythm of speech — how it works and fits together. Children need this understanding when learning to speak, as well as for reading and writing further down the line. Children also love repetition and as they grow used to a rhyme, they will try to anticipate what the next rhyming word will be, building memory skills and encouraging participation.

 

Nursery Rhymes seem really old fashioned. Are they still relevant for my child?

Nursery Rhymes are just brilliant for encouraging the essential listening, speaking and memory skills every child needs for learning. Plus they’re fun too! Number rhymes such as Five Little Ducks encourage early counting skills, while action rhymes like If You’re Happy and You Know It are great for improving coordination and encouraging physical play. One of the best things about nursery rhymes is that they become a shared experience for young children, there’s that magical moment when they realise other people also know these rhymes! This sense of being part of a group and being able to join in is an important step in growing up and interacting with others, either at nursery or school.

 

I have a lovely nursery rhymes book but I don't know half of the tunes. Help!

Why not browse the shops or the internet for a nursery rhyme CD or download? You could also look for a parent and child rhyme­time group in your local area so you can learn the tunes of many popular songs and meet other mums and carers too.

 

New Challenges (18 months ­ 4 years)

When should I start potty training my child?

Children are usually ready to begin potty training around the age of 24­30 months but every child is different. It is very important to begin potty training only when children are ready so take your lead from your child, not from other parents. Watch out for the signs of your toddler showing an interest in what people are doing in the loo, and being able to show you when they need a wee or a poo.

 

I'm really struggling with potty training. What should I do?

The most important thing is to be patient — don’t force the issue if they are not ready. Try to make it a relaxed and motivational experience. Take your child shopping to choose a potty and some special pants. Talk openly about how going to the loo is a natural, normal thing to do and try to incorporate the potty into your child's daily routine – use it first thing in the morning, after meals and before bedtime. Celebrate the successes and don’t stress out about the accidents – all children have them as they learn this new skill.

 

How can books help with potty training?

Books are often extremely helpful as they explain the whole process in simple language and children are reassured to see others going through the same thing. Ladybird’s Pirate Pete’s Potty and Princess Polly’s Potty come highly recommended by parents. These titles touch on choosing a potty and what it is used for, wearing pants, good hygiene habits, having accidents and trying your best. The ‘cheer’ sound button will help to motivate your child and the books are sturdy enough to be read over and over again!

 

My toddler is nervous about moving into her big girl’s bed and wants to stay in her cot like her baby sister. Do you have any advice on how to manage this?

You could try taking her shopping to choose some new bed covers or a special blanket so that she will be prepared for the change and think of the bed as hers. You could also choose a new book for bedtime so she's looking forward to getting tucked in. Try to keep to your normal bedtime routine so that your toddler is comforted and relaxed when she gets into her new bed and she will be more likely to stay in it. Spend time reading a bedtime story together so she's sleepy and has had time to settle into the new experience.

 

Friendship & Play (3­5 years)

What is imaginative play and how is it helpful?

Whether your child is play­acting familiar family scenes, such as cooking in the kitchen or driving the car, creating ‘little worlds’ or dressing up as a pirate, he is using his imagination and language skills while he plays. This is imaginative play. At this stage in your child’s development this kind of creative play helps him to begin to think independently and use his memory to act out a scene.

 

What sort of books help with imaginative play?

Toddlers’ imaginations are wonderfully un­restrained and pretty crazy places! Introducing fairy tales will open up incredible imaginary worlds to them but equally your child may find exploring a more factual book, about tractors for example, allows your child  to pretend he can drive a tractor and live on a farm. Look for interesting illustrations with humorous detail and try encouraging your child to use his imagination by asking them questions such as “What do you think trolls eat for lunch?” or “If you had a pirate ship where would you sail to?”

 

My child can be rather shy at times. How can books help to build up her confidence?

Just like adults, all children have different personalities and some will naturally be more outgoing than others. At this age children are beginning to form their own preferences and opinions, so when you read together ask questions and encourage her to talk about the book so she becomes confident in voicing what she thinks. Reading fairy tales together will help equip your child with ideas for imaginative play that other children might also be familiar with. One of the easiest ways to encourage imaginative play is to pretend you are someone or something else like a big bad wolf or a little pig.  You could use toys or simple props and talk to your child as you play together.

 

Starting School & Play (3 ­ 6 years)

My child is very anxious about starting school. What should I do?

Almost every child is a bit nervous about starting school, it’s a big step for them as well as for you! Talk about school in a positive way, reassuring him that it is an exciting place with lots of things to do and friends to make. Try to visit the school before the big day, so it feels familiar and less daunting. Have some uniform trying­-on sessions and pack his new school bag together so he knows where things are. There are lots of useful books and apps that are ideal for showing children what to expect on their big day. Have a look at Ladybird’s Topsy and Tim Start School book and app.

 

I am worried that my child will not make friends easily at school. Is there anything I can do to help him?

Don’t worry, your child will no doubt love school but if he is a little shy you can be assured his teacher will help him join in and make friends. Before starting school you could play games with him that encourage sharing, taking turns and being patient as this will really help him in a group environment. You could also find some local playgroups to join in the months before local play groups to join in the months before starting school so he's used to mixing with other children. Try not to appear too anxious yourself (easier said than done) and give him time to socialize at his own pace — he’ll get there.

 

Does my child need to know how to read and write before starting school?

All children develop and learn at different rates and the reception class teacher certainly won't expect children to arrive being able to read and write. When children start school, they will probably embark on a synthetic phonics programme, which will teach them all the sounds and combinations they need to be able to read and write confidently. If your child shows interest in learning before she starts school, we would encourage you to foster this early enjoyment of reading. Have a look at a few books together, such as alphabet books and simple stories and, in time, she will begin to understand the relationship between print and sounds. You could even try writing a few little stories or letters to her, containing words she can read.

 

Learning to read (5 ­ 7 years)

What are the different methods of learning to read?

There are lots of different methods of learning to read, so it is best to speak to the school for advice on which particular method they follow. Synthetic phonics is the most common method used in UK schools. Phonics involves making the connection between the 44 sounds (phonemes) of spoken English with letters or groups of letters (graphemes). Children are taught that these sounds can be blended to read words. Learning these phonics skills helps children to read fluently, spell accurately and write creatively. Once these have been mastered, encourage your child to read simple readers, such as Ladybird’s Read it yourself Level One. Ladybird’s Read it yourself carefully builds on the reading skills your child has already learnt using fairy tales and modern stories to make reading an enjoyable, interesting experience that will spark their enthusiasm for books.

 

My child is struggling to read. What can I do to help?

Learning to read is often trickier than people think and some of us take longer than others to learn. You can encourage a love of reading by building it into his routine (such as a nightly bedtime story) and making sure books on his favourite subjects are easily available. You can make your reading time even more beneficial by discussing the story and asking questions such as “What do you think happens next?” This will engage his interest and encourage his imagination. All reading is good reading, so if he wants to use a reading app or pick up a comic, embrace this, it is all good practice. The most important thing is to keep going and not give up.

 

How can technology and apps help my child to read? Aren’t these doing the opposite of reading?

There are plenty of good quality apps and eBooks on the market that are both entertaining and educational, such as Ladybird’s I’m Ready for Phonics app. Schools are introducing more digital tablets into the classroom and encouraging children to learn using these devices. Today, children are increasingly at one with all things digital. They thrive on exploring the apps, pressing the buttons and navigating their way through the various elements. Ultimately all that matters is that your child is learning and having fun at the same time!

 

Teachers 

Information for students

Due to the volume of requests received we are unable to send advice to students looking for information on how children's books are made and other related issues. For more information on the history of Ladybird Books, please browse ladybirdvintage, the main site contains information on our current publishing and educational issues, as well as links to other sites that might be of help.

 

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