We’ve previously written about The Gruffalo; its sequel, The Gruffalo’s Child, is also a wonderful book. And although targeted at kids aged 3 to 7 it is actually a great book for toddlers too. At this age, the plot (which is fascinating for kids in the target age group) doesn’t really matter as it is lost on them. But there are numerous other ways that toddlers can benefit from repeated readings.
Here are 5 ways I’ve found The Gruffalo’s Child useful with my toddler:
- Spot the animals: The wonderful illustrations contain some animals not actually involved in the plot. I regularly point and name them and as my daughter has grown she has also started to. For example, this deer just appears randomly – and each time we reach this page she excitedly calls out “deer!”
- Page turning: The version we have has solid cardboard pages which are durable and ideal for a little one to learn to turn. Initially, they will take great clumps of pages and you will have to help them but eventually they will master one-at-a-time. Allowing the child to turn the pages also helps them realize how books work – often my daughter tries to turn the page when I’m halfway through, but she’s gradually becoming aware that I need to finish reading first.
- Pointing, pointing, pointing! Sometimes my daughter will become fascinated with a page and point to object after object on it for me to name. I am sure that the charmingly beautiful drawings are part of the reason for this. And although there may be no indication a child is taking in these new words, they will be – and will likely use one out of the blue several weeks later, to your surprise and delight.
- Expand their horizons: Having never noticed it before, recently my daughter has become fascinated by the snowman outside the mouse’s house. Now she points and laughs in delight when we get to this page. Now where we live it never snows, so the other day I looked up a few YouTube videos showing snow falling and snowmen being built – and she loved them. There are numerous other opportunities to do this with pictures from the story, such as fires, rabbits, wood carvings, cave paintings, bats, weasels and tree stumps.
- Picking out letters: ‘Gruffalo’ or ‘Gruffalo’s Child’ appear on almost every page. When your toddler gets a little older, this presents a great opportunity to teach them the letter G and the sound it makes. After this, you could use the appearance of the mouse in the second half to teach them the letter M.
I haven’t touched on the plot itself here, but as the months and years go by I look forward to my daughter gradually understanding what is going on, and one day reading it herself.
One note of caution: I was tempted to show her the animated video of the book but although it is of excellent quality, it is probably a little spooky and scary for a toddler.
I hope you enjoy The Gruffalo’s Child and find it just as useful as we have!