Book of the Week: Baby’s First Book

Hi there! Katje here.

Today I’m going to talk about Baby’s First Book by Clare Beaton. (Currently discounted as part of our Winter Sale!)

A photo posted by Katje (@katgoesbarefoot) on

A bit about the book: Baby’s First Book is a large book full of pages that go over basic concepts, grouping them appropriately. For example, there’s a page called “My Toybox” and it has pictures of the various toys one might find in a child’s toy chest. There are also lots of traditional nursery rhymes with illustrations and, down at the bottom of the page, instructions on the physical actions that go with the rhymes. The book covers concepts like different types of animals, weather, clothing, and much more.

What I think kids will get out of it, and why it’s special: The illustrations are bright and colorful, which is pleasing to young eyes. Very young children are attracted to bright, bold colors, and this book delivers in that aspect. I also really like that the traditional rhymes have instructions for the actions that go with them — I sort of vaguely remember rhymes that my parents did with me when I was a kid, but not well enough to effectively do them with my own future children. Having instructions nearby will help immensely.

This is a book to be read from parent or caregiver to child. It is not a book that’s intended for a child to read on their own. So a big thing kids will get out of this book is together reading time with adults in their lives. Being illustration-heavy, there are lots of opportunities for picture walks to happen on different pages, even if there’s no overarching story. You can spend a lot of time pointing out the pictures, associating words with them, and just having fun with the book.

This is the most important thing. The words in this book are very simple. The concepts are simple: weather, animals, clothing, vegetables. The point is, they’re bundled up into one package so it’s easy to spend a good chunk of time with this book going over these concepts with a child. The happy memories you’ll make reading this book to your child will help encourage early reading readiness and literacy. Reading this book with a child and talking about the content of the book are great ways to encourage literacy.

On that note, it’s Family Literacy Week right now, and it’s wrapping up tomorrow. To read more about Family Literacy Week and the different ways you can help build literacy in your own home, check out the website here.

See you next month with another Barefoot Book!


Guest Post: Reading Readiness in the Fifties

Hello everyone! Eva here. When Katje sent me her story of how she came to be a reader, I responded with this. She asked if I wanted it to be my inaugural guest post here on Barefoot in Langley, and of course I said yes!

Book cover for Je Taimerai Toujours.Isn’t it funny, what we forget and remember? I had forgotten about Danny and the Dinosaur until Katje reminded me. I do remember how much she loved bedtime stories, especially Je t’Aimerais Toujours, which I sang to her.

I wasn’t so lucky. My father was an ex-teacher with quirky ideas. My mother was an obedient wife. I did not know this for about four decades, but he forbade my mother to teach me to read, so that I would not feel out of place with my fellow students when finally, at age six, I would be allowed to go to school. Like Katje, I was a child with early reading readiness. For some kids, that doesn’t happen until age seven but for us it came early. Unhappily for me, the doors to reading remained shut for three or four interminable years.

There weren’t many children’s books in the Fifties. My mother did not read to me before bed. Mornings, I would ask for a pencil and scribbler and invent writing for myself, wondering what the key to reading looked like. On weekends, when the color funnies came, I would sit with arms fixed wide, fingers clutching the edges of the storied pages, trying to break the code until my head ached. Surely there was a story attached to those pictures which would give me a clue!

When I was five, my mother was asked to translate for a Dutch immigrant family whose children needed to be enrolled in Donald Ross School, Edmonton. My best friend, Jean-Charles, was entering school too and I was green with jealousy. As my mother put my little sister into the stroller, I begged her, “Please, Mam, ask if I can go to school, too!” I want to believe she promised, but probably not. Off we trudged, the immigrant lot of us, the “Dirty DPs” (Displaced Persons). The principal’s desk came up to my nose and he looked enormous, hulking on its far side. As I heard the conversation drawing to a close, I jiggled my mother’s arm and whispered, “Ask him! Please!” Shame-faced, my mother related my outrageous request.

“How old is she?” he barked.

“She was five in June,” my mother quavered.

“No!” It was the first rejection of my life.

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