My parents visited us from Trinidad over the summer holidays and the girls especially relished the time with their doting grandparents. My mother must have read Talitha hundreds of books. Among them was the Jake and Tizzy collection, a series of books aimed at equipping parents and professionals supporting preschoolers with language delay. To Talitha, they were just delightful stories but I figured my mother, as a special educational needs teacher would have good insight into what else might be going on here. Here’s her review.
‘“Let’s read this, Nana!” Talitha settled herself on my lap, book in hand, as she had been doing throughout the past several weeks of our summer visit. Reading with her has been a particular joy for me, and many a time I was drawn back to those precious years gone by when Adele and Liam would sit with me as we poured over some new adventure waiting to be explored, or a favourite that had to be relived.
“What are we reading today?” I asked. “Jake and Tizzy, Nana!” she beamed. I hadn’t realised she had all eight books in her library, nor that she intended that we read all eight in one go. As it turned out I found it easy to see why these books could be so captivating for littles ones, and to older ones like myself for that matter.
As a teacher in special education I’m always on the lookout for material to use with my students. Finding culturally relevant story books is an on-going challenge but the ‘Jake and Tizzy’ series posed no barriers here. I was immediately taken by the vibrant colours and clear, simple, expressive illustrations. Literally every page provided opportunity for discussion, and as Talitha and I read and chatted our way through each book, my teacher brain mentally noted the many boxes in which these would score well for my students.
These are simple everyday scenarios that little ones can easily relate to. I think the appeal is in their simplicity and reminds me of young children’s innate wonder at the ordinary that we older ones miss or take for granted. To be sure the books live up to their claim as “a fun way to support language development”, but they are so much more. Embedded in the simple text I noted springboards to support lessons in math, social studies and science and I knew I had to get myself a set.
I am confident that these stories will have a culturally diverse appeal in their own right, and I look forward to introducing them to my Caribbean students in the new school year. And I’ll also be thinking of my little darling Talitha who introduced me to the world of Jake and Tizzy.’