I’m pausing in our neuroplasticity series to share the new book that Joey and I are enjoying together.
As a child, I loved the picture book, Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day. The wordless book depicts a mother leaving the house alone with Carl, the rottweiler dog, as the baby sitter. Once the mother leaves the house, the baby climbs out of the crib onto Carl’s back. Carl carries the baby throughout the house – to jump on the parents’ bed, play dress up with the mom’s jewelry, check out the fish tank, dance in the living room, eat a snack and even takes a bath to hide the evidence of the messy snack. Before the mother returns home, Carl puts the baby back into the crib as though nothing has happened.
I desperately wanted to have a dog like Carl who could carry me around the house. My own children loved this book as well, and so I wasn’t surprised when Joey also seemed to love the sweet, sneakiness of the dog and baby on an adventure together.
Wordless picture books are excellent for supporting Joey’s vocabulary right now. Instead of expecting him to repeat words I’ve already read in the book, Joey can use his eye gaze to generate the story himself. He can label what Carl and the baby are doing, use his prepositions to describe where the baby is and where Carl is taking him. Joey recently had household rooms added to his device, and so now Joey can also add what room Carl is taking the baby into. Joey also recently had the word ‘carry’ added to his vocabulary, so he can now tell that the dog is carrying the baby up or down the stairs. He can label how the baby and dog make a mess, and that the dog needs a washcloth to clean the baby.
Joey and I have read Good Dog, Carl again and again. Each time I am sure he will be bored with it and will choose another book. I brought it along with Go, Dogs, Go – which is by far more exciting because you can talk about cars, helicopters, and boats. Joey repeatedly chooses Good Dog, Carl though. I suspect it is for the same reason my own children (and why five year old me) loved it. The idea of a dog baby sitting you, in secret from your parents, is just too exciting. It is fun to imagine what you and a dog would do in the house alone, and how everything would get cleaned up before the parents get home.
Good Dog, Carl also lets us explore story elements in a way that many children books don’t. As fun as Go, Dog, Go is, it does not have a set problem, solution, characters or setting. Good Dog, Carl has a clear sequence that can be retold, with clear characters and a setting. It’s essential that as Joey is learning vocabulary and communication skills that he also continues to learn age appropriate academic standards. His motor development should not keep him from accessing learning.