GUEST POST: Heather Crossley talks about Pat-A-Cake
We are all aware of how important it is to read to children as young as possible, and there has been extensive research on the benefits of reading to babies, including from Booktrust. But do parents do it? In a new UK-wide survey based on 1000 parents conducted on behalf of Pat-a-Cake books, it was found that 87% agreed that reading is important to their newborn’s development but only 50% of the parents act on it and actually read to them. Providing attractive material that will support early experiences with books is the rationale behind the creation of this new imprint form Hachette. The imprint offers four types of books mirroring four stages of child development from birth to six. Sturdy and malleable, they also are attractive and really child-friendly.
On the Move, which is illustrated by Mojca Dolinar, is from the First Baby Days list and focuses on developing early senses. The use of predominantly black and white artwork with other primary colours allow the youngest of children to be able to focus on the artwork, while the pull-tabs will allow the more dexterous to experiment with the book as an object. The short narrative is perfectly pitched for the youngest readers who cannot concentrate or sit still for very long and encourages participation from both children and parents with noises to emulate. At this stage, books need to be simple, fun and attractive and this ticks all the boxes.
Here is Heather Crossley, publisher of Pat-a-Cake talking about the rationale behind this new imprint.
A Q & A with Heather Crossley
Publisher of Pat-a-Cake
What is your background in publishing and how did you come to set up the Pat-a-Cake imprint?
I’ve been working in children’s publishing for over 20 years and the new Pat-a-Cake list draws on my experience from my time at Kingfisher, BBC Worldwide and latterly as Publisher at Ladybird where I was Peppa Pig’s first Mum and then responsible for the in-house created core Ladybird list. When Hilary Murray Hill, CEO, Hachette Children’s Group, asked me to join the team to create a brand new imprint for young children, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
What are the aims for the new imprint?
From the outset, we have thought clearly about Pat-a-Cake’s aims. We want to be the home of original content, favourite characters and big brands for children from birth to six with products that support a child’s key developmental stages and that are lots of fun, too!
What does the range of books offer parents, carers and children?
We want to promote the very special bond between parent and child and to take children and parents on a journey of discovery to create the readers and storytellers of the future.
It is very important to us that Pat-a-Cake supports parents through this journey. We recognise that not every parent is a confident book user. We will offer a friendly source of support as parents and carers navigate through the amazing early years of their child’s life.
There are many ways we will do this; user-friendly parent notes incorporated into the text (for example notes inviting parents to ask children to count the number of flowers or to make animal sounds),
easy-to-use books, a dedicated Facebook page, endorsements by experts and other parents, recommendations and clear messaging on back covers.
How do Pat-a-Cake books stand out from the competition?
Pat-a-Cake’s books are bold, bright, visually strong, and well-crafted editorially. They are firmly underpinned by sound pedagogical foundations but don’t skimp on the fun factor.
The multi-layered content is rich and designed to maintain a child’s interest so they will want to keep coming back for more. And importantly, the texts are designed to be easy to use for less confident parents.
What research and development did you do for the new range?
We prototype our books and get them in front of our child and parent testers as soon as we can. This means that at every stage of a book’s development we engage with our audience, learning from them and reacting to their responses.
In addition, our child development expert, Dr Jacqueline Harding, provides academic and scientific support for the Pat-a-Cake list. We also enlist the help of a wide range of consultants so parents can be confident that every Pat-a-Cake book really is good for their child.
Will the books relate to children’s developmental stages? How will you make it easy for parents to choose appropriately for their child?
Pat-a-Cake’s list is segmented into five areas, each representing the major milestones from birth to six. In 2017 we are publishing 35 in-house created titles over eight series.
* Sensory Baby (birth to eighteen months) First Baby Days is a high contrast novelty board book series for newborns. The books are designed to stimulate a baby’s rapidly developing eyesight and other senses. First Baby Days are cased board books with pull-tabs, mirrors, flaps and touch-and-feels to encourage baby and parent interaction.
* Talkative Toddler (eighteen months to thirty-six months) There is a huge amount of mental and physical development taking place at this stage. Toddler’s World helps to build vocabulary and develop hand-eye coordination with its vibrant picture word books for curious toddlers. The Clap Hands titles take touch-and-feel books to a new level as the child joins in and claps along when they meet lots of animal friends. These series include a pop-up recap page to stimulate discussion and interaction.
*Preschool Playtime (three to four years) New experiences and creative and imaginative play become a huge part of a child’s everyday life. Our books support this with entertaining, fun and stimulating content. Town and About is a stunning first non-fiction series packed with facts to discover and flaps to lift. Big Stickers for Tiny Hands is a new twist on the classic sticker book format with easy-peel, pre-punched sticker shapes
*Ready for School (four to five years) These books introduce the soon-to-be independent, reception-aged child to the skills they need for school with bright engaging formats to promote success. I’m Starting School is a series of essential wipe-clean books and flash cards to encourage lots of practice and build confidence.
*School Success (five years plus) Coming in 2018, books in this stage will celebrate and reinforce early years’ learning.
Excitingly, Pat-a-Cake will also publish preschool licensed character properties. This summer we bring you the tie-in books about the new little heroes that preschoolers everywhere are obsessed with – PJ Masks! 2017 is a big year for this brand with toy and apparel hitting the shops and a continuing presence as a top show for Disney Junior.
What are your plans for 2018?
In 2018 the initial titles and series will expand and will be joined by new ones such as books for the School Success stage.
Many thanks, Heather.
First Baby Days: On the Move is out now and can be purchased here.
Source: review copy from publisher.