This month’s featured product is a handy book called From Rattles to Writing: A Parent’s Guide to Hand Skills, by Barbara A. Smith. Not only am I reviewing this book because I think it’s AWESOME but I am also giving away FIVE FREE COPIES between now and this Wednesday, May 8th! Read on…
Barbara is a fellow occupational therapist who has worked with children for many years and is passionate about giving parents the tools they need in order to promote their child’s overall development. I first heard about this book several months ago and was hoping to get my hands on it, so when her publisher (Therapro, Inc.) offered to provide me a promotional copy of the book for review, I was ecstatic! I knew I would love this book before I even got my hands on it.
In the introduction, Barbara states that From Rattles to Writing is written to help parents and educators foster the skills children need in order to read and write (p. v).
But don’t kids just learn those skills on their own? you may ask. Good question. Barbara acknowledges this and suggests that educating parents and developing kids’ foundational developmental skills are more important now than ever due factors in our modern society such as the difficulties associated with seemingly infinite options for toys and educational products, advances in technology, higher expectations for gross motor development and competitive sports at younger ages, the push for academic achievement and handwriting at younger and younger ages, and the changes in kids’ learning environments in general.
It’s true. As a pediatric OT myself, I see this so clearly as I work with “undiagnosed” three-year-olds who don’t have a pincer grasp (a 1-year-old skill), first graders who can’t efficiently hold a pencil (a 3 to 5-year-old year skill), or second and third graders who have difficulty reading, writing, or participating in ball play because their eyes are unable to visually track objects without moving their head (a pre 1-year-old skill).
I often find myself so frustrated by the fact that many of these difficulties likely could have been prevented if parents knew what to look for and how to help in those early years!!! Why isn’t there a go-to resource for parents when it comes to fine motor development??? I often ask myself in desperation.
Now there is — it’s called From Rattles to Writing.
Here’s what I like about this book:
1. It’s easy to navigate. At just about 200 pages in length, this book is designed to be used as a reference tool and is not necessarily meant to be read in one sitting. Much like What to Expect, It’s divided into age groups with one chapter per age group: Infants (divided into 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months), Toddlers (divided into 12-18 months, 18-24 months), Two Year Olds, Three Year Olds, Four Year Olds (with teaching methods and adaptations to help the almost-5-year-old who is ready to read and write prior to Kindergarten), and a concluding chapter that provides some suggestions for children as they move into Kindergarten and First Grade. I’ll admit, as soon as I received this book in the mail, I immediately opened to the 18-24 Months chapter so I could read up on my own son’s development and get some ideas for the home. I then flipped back to the Newborn chapter and found some great ideas to use when Baby Number Two comes along this summer! Like I said, this book is easy-to-navigate and can be conveniently picked up for just a few minutes at a time.
2. It’s holistic and well-rounded. Of course a book written by an OT would be well-rounded! Because fine motor skills do not develop in isolation from other developmental skills, Barbara also incorporates discussion and activity ideas involving cognitive, sensory, visual-perceptual, social-emotional, language, and gross motor development. I absolutely LOVE this and it is probably one of the main reasons why I will be recommending this book to everyone I know who raises or works with kids.
3. It’s informative without being too “heady”. Sometimes developmental resource books can get too little technical as they spout off scientific jargon. But because this book is written first and foremost for parents, it provides solid scientific and developmental information in easy-to-understand language. I like how Barbara incorporated technical terms (such as “crossing midline” or “motor planning”) into the text while clarifying them both in context as well as in definition boxes to the side of the page. I can imagine parents reading each chapter (especially the Infant chapters) and saying, “That’s so interesting!” or, “I never knew that!” Infant and child development really is so complex, yet fascinating.
4. It’s full of good ideas. The author provides sub-sections throughout the book related to Suggested Toys (developmental toys to purchase to encourage visual, sensory, and motor skills), Make Your Own (toys you can make or adapt using household materials), Fun Activities (play ideas to teach specific skills for certain ages), and Music (songs and dances to teach developmentally-appropriate motor and language concepts specific to certain age groups). Barbara inspired me to immediately create two items mentioned in her book: a VELCRO® bottle for fine motor skills and slimy spaghetti for sensory play (using this recipe).
5. It provides additional developmental info and resources in the back of the book. At the end of the book Barbara provides a quick chronological reference of visual motor skills developed in the first five years; an at-a-glance page with proper letter formation for capital letters, lowercase letters, and numbers (based on the Zaner-Bloser approach); a glossary of terms; and a list of additional resources for everything from baby sign language, kids’ cookbooks, books with more ideas for sensory and motor development, pre-writing books, visual motor skills, and more. The learning and idea-sharing doesn’t have to stop just because the book ended!
Doesn’t this book sound AWESOME?! Great for new parents (Mother’s Day is coming up!!), new OT grads, special education teachers, or childcare providers who work with kids on a daily basis. Don’t you want to get your hands on it?
Well, you’re in luck because Therapro, Inc. has agreed to partner with Mama OT to give five lucky winners a free copy of the book as part of a From Rattles to Writing giveaway!
(This giveaway has ended)
CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE “FROM RATTLES TO WRITING” GIVEAWAY! Enter this giveaway by clicking on the “Enter to Win” tab in the box above and then following the directions. Please let me know if you have any difficulties entering. It’s made to run smoothly, but sometimes there are hiccups in the system, and I don’t want anyone to be left out due to technical difficulties!
This giveaway will run from 12:00am PST on Monday, May 6, 2013 to midnight Wednesday night (12:00am PST, May 9, 2013). You can read the terms and conditions of this giveaway by clicking on the appropriate link in the entry box.
I really hope you’ll check out this book. It is an invaluable resource for anyone who works with kids. Best of luck in the giveaway!
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links, so if you click on them and wind up buying something, a small percent of your purchase will help Mama OT buy more diapers (at no extra cost to you).