Books for children come in a wide variety of styles and one of the most interesting types is jigsaw puzzle books. These books are a great way to help kids learn to read as well as being useful for fine motor skills; and they have the added quality of being fun.
The idea of a jigsaw puzzle book usually goes one of two ways. The book may have a complete story with a puzzle tucked into the front or back cover, or each page has a puzzle to be solved. The puzzles tend to be quite simple – due to restrictions on space and size – and this makes them perfect for little fingers and jigsaw beginners.
A nice example of a jigsaw puzzle book is “Angelina Ballerina’s Jigsaw Puzzle Book” by Katharine Holabird, illustrated by Helen Craig. The Angelina character is well-known to legions of children via both books and a television series, and this is a positive starting point. Inside the book are seven simple jigsaws which help tell the tale of Angelina’s adventures over the course of a week.
One of the best ways to use a jigsaw book as a reading tool is by reading the story and using the jigsaw to help a child put words and picture together. For example, Angelina may be carrying a basket. Point to the word basket, say it aloud and get the child to find the basket in the picture. When the child finds the item, reinforce the word-item combination; “Yes, look, this word says basket and you found it. Well done!” This idea can be used for any number of objects in the pictures.
Jigsaw books are a great way for kids to learn that what they see relates to what they read, and using familiar characters is a very useful way to spark interest and enthusiasm. Take “The Gruffalo Jigsaw Book” – written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler – as an example. The Gruffalo is familiar, a cosy monster who isn’t as bad as he looks. Children love Gruffalo adventures and this particular book contains the original story alongside six jigsaw scenes from the tale. Children want to interact with the story and the jigsaws because it is something they know.
Once a child has a basic grasp of reading it is easy to play reading games using jigsaw books. Along the lines of finding the item, try to get children putting the jigsaws together based on finding a word in the text. Using “The Snail and the Whale Jigsaw Book” – written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler – and the illustration of a jigsaw from the front cover, this is how to play.
Look at how the pieces divide the picture and what each individual piece contains. Looking at the bottom right corner, there are two fish. Ask the child to find “fish” in the text. When they find it – and remember to be patient and give clues if needed – they can find the jigsaw piece with the fish on and fit it into the frame. Again, this will work with any page and any jigsaw.
As a final example of how jigsaw puzzle books can help children learn to read, right from the beginning, “Farmyard Tales ABC Jigsaw Book” – illustrated by Stephen Cartwright – takes children to Apple Tree farm and there are 26 individual jigsaws embedded in the pages. Each piece is uniquely shaped (making placement easier) and when the jigsaw is lifted out of the frame the an alphabet letter is revealed, helping children learn the basics they need for reading.
Jigsaw puzzle books are a unique and fun item to add to any child’s library, ready to help with learning to read in a fun and engrossing way.