The beauty of reading stories is the way they let you to step into a different world.
You can travel through time, go on fantastical adventures or experience life as another type of person.
But what if a book allowed your child to do this not only in their imagination but in your front room too?
This is exactly the principle of a range of three-in-one books which has been created by independent publisher Miles Kelly.
The Convertibles series is a set of oversized books which can be read as a normal picture book, then folded out into a long playmat or transformed into a vehicle with the help of some velcro straps for a bit of character role play.
There are nine in the series, including a submarine, race car, bulldozer and a princess carriage.
Baby Bookworm has the police car and it captured his attention from the off, although I confess we generally tend to skip the reading and go straight to building the car itself… We have had it for about three months and it comes out a couple of times a week, at least.
The range is aimed at age three and older, so I suspect he will be more interested in the other elements as his concentration improves.
A huge plus with this compared to other role play toys is how easily the car packs away – perfect for people who are space poor. I’d also recommend the books for taking on your travels and they make a great gift.
The velcro fastenings to hold it all together have broken a bit as Baby Bookworm is not very gentle, but the car still stays up well and we usually put a little chair inside for him to sit on. He loves going in and out of the moving door.
While the story itself is simple and very factual, following a day in the life of two police officers, it’s good for expanding your child’s vocabulary and the large images mean you can spark conversation about what they can spot.
There are also big brownie points for the inclusion of both a male and female police character – no gender stereotyping here! Not to mention encouraging role play and imaginative play.
As well as the vehicles, Miles Kelly has a set of Convertible Playbooks where the stories become playmats and buildings to recreate events or use their imagination to act our their own scenarios.
There are six to choose from – Animal Hospital, Garage, Airport, Castle, Farm and Fire Station. Once again there are female mechanics and pilots, along with racially diverse characters.
We have Animal Hospital although I haven’t struck up the nerve to let Baby Bookworm at it yet – the pieces are much more fragile and I think it is suited more suited to the three years plus age group (or at least a child who is less rough!).
A very nifty idea and a new way to spark your child’s interest in books, especially if they struggle to sit for a story.
UPDATE: 26 October 2019
Mini versions of the Convertible Playbooks are now available! These are a more traditional book size but with the same cool features.
Baby Bookworm loves the Garage one and I love the fact it has a female mechanic and male receptionist.
We’ll definitely be giving these as gifts at all the fourth birthday parties we have coming up.
Miles Kelly Convertibles and Convertible Playbooks cost £14.99. Mini Playbooks are £9.99. Available from mileskelly.net
You may also like…
100 picture books with female lead characters
What we’re reading: Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell