Joy is almost 18 months old. She can pull to stand and do some cruising around the coffee table. She likes to stand on the full size mattress and fall forward, landing on her face. She loves the mattress for bouncing. Occasionally, when she is sitting on the hardwood floor, she loses her balance and falls backward, often hitting her head.
Today I noticed Joy holding one of her board books. She was holding it right side up and turning the pages with her pointer finger, using her fingernail to catch each board and pull it over. She looked at the colorful pages and cooed. She set the book down, crawled away, then turned and came back to the book. She picked it up and again held it right side up.
Okay, I thought. She knows that the book has a proper orientation. I had never seen her hold a book like a pro before.
I decided we would “read” (it’s mostly just 26 photos of kids with 26 objects) some of the pages as she turned each one. The book is called Kids Like Me Learn ABCs. It features photos of smiling children, mostly toddlers and grade school kids with Down.
“Okay, Joy,” I say, pointing to the 72-point capital letter. “This is the letter A. And below is the American Sign Language sign for A. A is for apple, as you can see by this baby boy sitting among the apples that, for some reason, are scattered in his bed.”
The facing page is B. “Here, Joy. Look at the little boy with the balloons.” (It’s not a flattering photo. The photographer is trying to show a look amazement on the boy’s face as the balloons float at the top of the colorful strings. But the boy seems to be saying “Huh?”) “So B stands for either balloons or bewildered.”
Joy turns the page. “Good girl, Joy. This is letter C. The sign for C actually looks like a C. The letter C can stand for cookie. That boy is holding an M&M cookie. Yum.”
I point to the facing page. “The next letter is D,” I say. “And once again—four times in a row—the model is a boy. Oh, and D stands for toy dinosaur. I guess it wouldn’t be right to photograph a girl playing with a triceratops.”
Suddenly Joy decides to flip to the last page. “Oh, Joy. You are so ZANY!” I say. “Z is for zany and for zipper.” The left-hand page is, of course Y. Y is for yarn. The photographer has draped different colored yarn over a little boy’s head.
Joy then flips back a page to W and X. “Look, Joy. W is for watermelon. Girls are allowed to pose with watermelon slices.”
The facing page is X. X is for xylophone (of course). “Look, Joy,” I say, “the little boy is going to bang the heck out of the ZYE-low-fone.”
Joy closes the book. She drops it on the mattress and decides to bounce.