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I’m not into gimmicks in books, frankly. I don’t use them with children. They just don’t hold up to rough young hands.

But it seems though that every time I make a sweeping statement about something, an exception comes up.

And a book I recently shared made me rethink my position on gimmicks in books for young children. Could they really be simply special features?

I wish I’d had a camera to capture Michael’s face as I unfolded the pages (literally) of the Big Yellow Sunflower (opens in a new window) (Candlewick, 2008) and read the question on each page: “Little seed, little seed, [falling, planted, spreading out, etc.]…what will you be?”

It became a large and colorful sunflower to the total delight of two, almost three year old Michael.

Reading this book in which the pages were not at all traditional was thrilling for this little boy. After the first (and second) reading he folded the petals of the sunflower back into book form. The second time, Michael stopped to look carefully at the critters on each page as they witnessed the seed growing and (sort of) patiently listened to me talk about each of them… at least name them.

I’m not convinced that this book can handle many readings by young children, but then again, maybe the look on Michael’s face makes the gimmick (and the chance to see transformation and maybe even practice hand eye coordination or even start to learn that special books need to be treated gently) makes it worthwhile.

Better a book “die” from being loved than wither on the shelf, don’t you think?

About the Author

Reading Rockets’ children’s literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids’ books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Publication Date
March 15, 2008