Studies indicate that when young children are introduced to books, they tend to read earlier and excel more in school compared to those who are not exposed to language and books at a young age. Furthermore, if parents read, rhyme, sing and talk to children from early in their life, it can profoundly influence literacy and language development, which are the foundations for all other learning.
Cultivating a love of reading in young children can be challenging, but there are ways to make it easier.
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s Harbour Store, which is located across from the Blue by Eric Ripert restaurant, sells storybooks and puzzles that accompany the Jellycat brand of plush stuffed animals. The soft, cuddly creatures make the perfect gift for children ages 2-4 and provide a great way to foster a love of reading and for kids to practise logical thinking and use fine motor skills.
The Ritz-Carlton retail supervisor Peggy Onaga says the popular collection offers a memorable and fun learning experience.
“It motivates the child to be more interested in reading while seeing the plush toy mimicking what is being read to them by the parent,” she says. “So it becomes more exciting.”
Each toy stars as the main character in the accompanying storybooks, which tackle common childhood themes in a rhyming prose style that include tales of kindness, facing fears and discovering inner capabilities, just to name a few.
For example, “Mattie’s Twirly Whirly Tail” features a monkey whose curly tail makes him different than the others — the moral of the “tale” is to always be true to yourself and embrace your uniqueness.
“Elly Ballerina” is a story about an elephant who wishes to dance on the big stage, but fears she is too big and ungraceful. With hard work and a big break, Elly gives a flawless performance — and her “elephant memory” also helps her remember all the steps, leaps and pirouettes.
Odell the octopus learns about courage and discovery during an undersea odyssey in “The Fearless Octopus,” and Rory the lion cub gets a little help from his dad, the king of the jungle, to overcome his fears of leading his pride one day in “The Very Brave Lion.”
There are several more Jellycat animals with accompanying storybooks or puzzles at the Harbour Store, with prices starting at CI$15.