As our elder daughter nears three and a half, we've been reflecting on how her reading choices have developed over time. We have been reminded of how far she has come in this regard, and many others, as we watch her little sister (who has just turned 8 months) change and grow.
Our three year old continues to adore picturebooks, but she is increasingly interested in books that involve a greater amount of text and narrative. She has also had a lot of fun in the last few months revisiting some of her favourite board books, which are now being devoured (figuratively and literally) by her baby sister.
This tale of her literary development can be told through books featuring robots. Books featuring robots piqued her interest at a very young age, continuing through her toddler years and as she transforms into a girl before our eyes.
ABC Alphabet Fun (My First Touch and Feel) by Jonathan Litton, published by Little Tiger Press
As a one year old, our elder daughter (and now increasingly her little sister) was keen on board books based on the alphabet, first words and shapes. One of the best series of early learning books is those published by Little Tiger Press - whose excellent range includes board books, stickerbooks and jigsaw puzzles.
One of the series' authors, Jonathan Litton, created the cleverly designed 'Roar: A big-mouthed book of noises', one of our favourites. His 'ABC Alphabet Fun (My First Touch and Feel)' is another delight from start to end, with an array of tactile features to interact with, including a dog's squishy nose, a lion's fury mane, and a sticky splodge of jam. 'R' is for Robot, memorably depicted upside down, which in itself is a talking point, along with its shiny buttons, whirring dials and wind up cogs. From A-Z, this is a super sensory delight.
Tin by Chris Judge, published by Andersen Press
This brilliant combination of storytelling and eye-spy features a periodic table of characters, and has been enjoyed again and again since our daughter turned two. It is the tale of Tin, a young robot, whose mother entrusts him with the care of his little sister, Nickel. Although he is pleased with this responsibility, he is nevertheless distracted by his comicbook and only with an alert from his robot dog, Zinc, does he notice his sister floating off into the sky, holding a helium balloon.
So begins his intrepid rescue, involving flights across a futuristic cityscape, and daring adventures in a fairground and zoo. The story develops within a series of magnificent landscape spreads, each packed with details to spot and enjoy, reminiscent of the best scenes from Where's Wally. Tin and Nickel's escapades, eventual rescue and return home go unnoticed by their mother, who arrives back just after they do. She praises Tin for his attentiveness and care of his sister, neither of them noticing Nickel has been enticed by another balloon. This is the equivalent of picturebook metallurgy - turning words and images about common metals into storytelling gold.
Superbot and the Terrible Toy Destroyer by Nick Ward, published by David Fickling Books
Earlier this year our elder daughter was given her first chapter book - Superbot and the Terrible Toy Destroyer by Nick Ward - a tale of robots with many more words than other books in her collection, split into bite sized chapters.
Although it has longer passages of text than she had been used to, these are set alongside engaging and detailed illustrations depicting the world of Superbot, his maker Mrs Brightspark and his nemesis, Bruto the Bad.
When Bruto takes and crushes all of the local children's favourite toys, it's down to Superbot and his array of clever gadgets to put an end to Bruto's destructive behaviour, and discover the reason behind it.
Over the last few weeks, Superbot has been requested over and over again, probably more times than any other book. While on holiday at Easter, we read it five nights running - usually two chapters at a time. This tale is part of David Fickling Books' new Dfbees series of early readers. We're excited for what we hope will be many future instalments of Superbot.