As a kid my parents didn’t censor my reading much at all. Although, there is one type of book I remember not getting to check out much. I think maybe my parents didn’t really consider them books, or maybe they just didn’t have many back in my day. Search & Finds. Remember Where’s Waldo?
At our house this is a VERY popular genre, and I love that it is. I myself LOVE search and finds. However, these are great books to use throughout the early language development years. Search and Finds come at all levels, in all different formats, and feature every sort of character or interest you can think of.
For really little ones (like my 19 month old) who are just learning to speak and identify things on their own, these are great. As a parent you can use them to point out objects and identify them (truck, swing, house) to reinforce what they are, and how the words are pronounced. You can also ask your little ones, “What is that?” or “Find a car.” Make sure you wait for them to respond in some way. Any sound they make, whether it’s a word correctly executed or not, is an important step towards learning to communicate. This is wonderful practice for them, and they love to do it. From their perspective they are getting your undivided attention and playing a game. You are helping them acquire and build their language skills.
The other day I caught both my boys (the older one is 4) laying on the floor with a search and find. Ben would say to Eli, “Find the cherry picker. Where is the monster truck?” Eli would point them out and just jabber to his big brother. What great practice for Eli at speaking and identifying objects, and what a great way for the two of them to play nicely and bond. Trust me, that is a rare thing in this house right now…It is usually not that quiet.
Ben likes to do more difficult search and finds now. Most of them provide the words beneath the pictures and he has been paying attention to those more. He sounds them out and asks about letters that don’t sound right to him. Being in preschool, this is great practice learning his letters and sounds.
Although I haven’t found any research about the mental benefits of search and find books, I think they must have some. They require some problem solving, visual acuity, deduction, among other important skills for developing brains to practice.
Also, they are a great way to keep your kids busy on a road trip that doesn’t involve a screen or batteries…another bonus.