“Love. Love. Love,” Joey said to me after we read the book Press Here by Herve Tullet for the first time. If you aren’t familiar with this book, it engages the reader by asking them to physically touch the page in different ways. The words “Press here” are under a yellow dot. After the reader presses the yellow dot you turn the page, to find that the yellow dot has multiplied. The book is a low-tech cause and effect game, as you read through it to see what your pressing, clapping, shaking, or blowing does to the dots in the book.
I wasn’t sure how Joey would respond to this book because it requires so much motor planning. It would require him to focus his motor movements to particular areas on a page. This could be hard for him, and I was worried he would become too frustrated. Yet I don’t know many four year olds who don’t love the book, and if it wasn’t for the motor planning difficulties this would be the exact book I’d expect Joey to enjoy.
He loved it. His smile continued to grow across the beginning pages as he came to understand the book’s pattern. He began predicting what would come next by telling me what color dot he thought we’d be asked to press next. “Blue” he said, grinning broadly. Sure enough, the blue dot was the next one to press.
As the dots expanded across the pages he used his device to count. Typically, when we count I’ll say most of the numbers in a counting sequence and he’ll tell me which number comes last. While counting in this book, he wanted nothing to do with my counting. Ignoring my “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,” count he went into the numbers on his device and slowly and carefully said “4, 5, 6.” Later, without me even asking him to count he used the numbers on the device to tell me how many dots were on the page.
The book requires Joey to use both hands to shake it and clap, both skills Joey had difficulty doing independently. We asked him if we could “do it together” in order to still give him the feeling of ownership over the interactions. Although I have seen Joey clap, or at least bring his hands together, Joey did not attempt it for this book. It was toward the end of the book and he was tired. Next time I’ll look for ways to give Joey an alternative motion, like shaking a maraca or banging on his tray.
I’m so glad that I didn’t let my assumption that Joey might not like a book stop me from introducing it to him. He would have missed out on an engaging experience where he showed skills like independently counting and spontaneously making predictions that I hadn’t seen him do before. And I would have missed out on seeing him smile and laugh over a great book.