One of Sophy Henn’s ‘Ted’ board book series, Time to Go With Ted is a charming and funny board book for very young readers. With big flaps on every page and toddler-level humour, these delightful little books are a great way to start children on their reading adventures.
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There is a dearth of picture books staring BAME boys, and the problem is even more noticeable when you start looking at board books.
Designed as first readers for very young children, board books are often just reformatted editions of ‘normal’ picture picture books. Producing them as board books makes the pages, thicker, tougher and therefore harder to tear. And board books are generally smaller too, making them easy for little ones to handle.
But the best board books aren’t just toughened-up versions of books more suitable for older children. Instead, they are the ones with content designed especially for very young readers. They have bold colours and shapes that are easier for babies to distinguish. They also often have flaps to lift, textures to explore and even sounds.
Time to Go With Ted fits into this second category of board book, with eye-catching illustrations and big, whole-page flaps that reveal the punchline to each line.
Each page has a callout with the line ‘time to go, Ted!’ followed by a different, everyday destination.
And on the facing page (which is actually a flap), Ted is ready and dressed for the adventure.
But open the flap, and we see Ted’s adventures are far from everyday. With the words ‘I might…’, he imagines finding something rather more wonderful than the ordinary outing.
Repeat after me…
This simple repetition is great for really young children. While it might get old quickly for us adults, repetition is one of the key ways that children learn.
It is even biological. A child’s brain is set up to strengthen and retain neural pathways created by repeated information. This repetition helps them gradually build up vocabulary and memory.
Simple rhymes and patterns, like those in Time to Go, Ted, are easily learnt, and children are quickly able to predict the ‘twist in the tale’ revealed by pulling back the flap. This adds to their enjoyment and engagement, and makes reading a book exciting.
One of the very early stages of reading is memorising words (before learning to truly decipher the text). Books like Time to Go With Ted help develop to that skill by providing a pattern that even very young children can recognise, repeat and predict.
Simplicity at its best
I love the gorgeous colour pallet in these books. And while the artwork is simple, it cleverly communicates emotions through the expressions on Ted’s face. The body language is also captured beautifully. I just love the story told by the combination of Ted’s expression, the enormously bulky rubber ring and Ted’s spread out arms, bulked out by his water wings.
There’s also an onomatopoeic line on every flap to add to the ritual repetition, and relatable common childhood experiences. Children love making sounds like these – the ‘splish splosh SPLISH of the whale, or the ‘roar, roar, ROAR’ of the lion. It adds to the fun, but it also aids their pattern recognition.
I’m often surprised that friends often get rid of picture books as soon as their children are able to read independently. My own children (including my current ten-year-old), will happily sit down with a picture book that has been a favourite for years, and still be full of enthusiasm for it.
Board books like the Ted series clearly don’t have this breadth of age appeal, but that isn’t to say that they are therefore less important. They help build the foundation for a child’s relationship with reading and books, so it’s vital for me that these simple board books are as beautiful, well-thought out, and diverse as any older reader.
The Ted series hits all these marks. And with topics ranging from dressing up to vehicles; teatime to bedtime; or moving like animals to reading stories, there’s sure to be a Ted tale for every child to enjoy.
Buy the book
Time to Go with Ted is available from Amazon here, in hardback format only.
There are many other Ted books too – check out the author’s page for more!
By the same author
By Sophy Henn
By Sophy Henn
Picture Books with Diverse Characters
Have you seen my full list of the best 23 picture books with diverse characters? Just like Time To Go With Ted, all of these picture books feature black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) boys as main characters. Something that’s as rare as proverbial hen’s teeth in children’s books, and a problem I’ve written about here.
Check out the list to find out more about our favourites, and take a peek inside. If you like the look of this book, I’m sure you’ll find some others to love there too!
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