How to Survive “The ABCs and 123s Phase”⏳

In June we moved houses and are no longer living in London. Due to our poor unpacking skills I have had a VERY limited (borderline on non-existing) access to mirrors and the Internet which has been extremely frustrating liberating. Unfortunately this meant I have not been able to blog as much as I would have liked to.

Fortunately, despite still having a room full of boxes to unpack (where are all the mirrors!?) the boxes with our children’s books have been marked very clearly and had top priority when unpacking.

And it seems like Worm N° 1 over the last three months has aged about three years! All of a sudden she started speaking. And in not one but two languages. And it’s not just her usual gobbledygook either! In what seems like virtually overnight she started recognising colours and patterns and words I would never expect her to know.

This may be the reason why most of her favourite books at the moment are the ones that reinforce that newly acquired language. Anything that involves colours, numbers, shapes makes her happy. She squeals in delight when she discovers the colour she knows (and she knows all the colours so there’s a lot of squaring going on on our household) or the animal she recognises.

The problem I have with these ‘first concept’ books is that they are, for the lack of a better word, ermmm… BORING.


If you read the same book for the seventeenth time and all there is to it is: ‘Blue. Red. Yellow’ etc. etc. I salute you if you haven’t lost the will to live.

So, prompted by my survival instinct, I have tossed most of the traditional ’first skills’ books aside and have substituted them for a few more modern/fun/witty/quirky/unusual/beautiful options instead. Here are my favourite, old and new, First Skills books for youngest ones (and by this I mean available in a baby-proof board book format):


SHAPES: Walter’s Wonderful Web

NUMBERS: Tip Tap Went the Crab

COLOURS: Wow! Said the Owl

Tim Hopgood is a master when it comes to First Concepts books. Our top read at the moment is Walter’s Wonderful Web: Walter’s wobbly-wobbly webs come in all sort of shapes (see what he did here!?) and you keep on rooting for him to finally spin a perfect web that would defeat the wind and perhaps combine ALL THE SHAPES in just one web?





OK, so these have no funny plot or a twist but they are STUNNING. Each book follows a basic story line (First Words is about a, presumably, daughter and dad spending a day together and Counting depicts a mother and son having fun outdoors) but it is up to the reader to link all the pages.





COUNTING: Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Romeo and Juliet

COLOURS: Alice in Wonderland,

A very high brow (but with a pinch of salt!) way to teach lil’ ‘uns their ABCs and 123s. Or introduce them to classic British literature!



by Sandra Boyne

My personal favourite when it comes to ALL counting books. It is so simple and funny. And it rhymes which is always a bonus.





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