Cheetah Love: More Than Critter Couture

by On February 4, 2014 in Childrens Books, General, Holidays, Reading


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She loves cheetah prints for a reason! Credit: Diana Dull Akers

She loves cheetah prints for a reason!
Credit: Diana Dull Akers

If you’re the parent of a young girl, you’ve probably noticed that cheetah, leopard and zebra print designs are everywhere on kids’ clothing, backpack and shoes. I’ve never been a fan of the animal print look, but my 6-year old Hope assures me it is “definitely cool” to be sporting spots and stripes at school. And for her, the cheetah print reigns supreme.

What makes me smile is that my kid’s love for cheetah couture is not fueled by a goal of being cool or fashion forward. Nope, Hope’s inspiration comes from her love of actual cheetahs, a passion inspired by books and educational programming.

It started with the PBS Kid’s show Wild Kratts, a popular hybrid educational program and cartoon featuring real-life naturalist brothers Chris and Martin Kratt. During each episode, the Kratt brothers take kids on educational adventures to learn about land and sea creatures in their natural habitats. They do this by first donning “creature power vests,” then morphing into animated half-human/half-creatures themselves (hey, how else are you going to get creature-perspective?)

My kid loves Wild Kratts in general, but it was with the cheetah episode (and their cleverly named cheetah, Blur) that my kid was hooked.

“I just LOVE cheetahs!” Hope tells us on a repeat basis. She imitates cheetahs in play with friends and asks for books on cheetahs, big cats and “cool creatures” more generally.

Just look at that face.

Just look at that face.

When kids tell you they love a topic, run with it! Get them the books that will make them smile!

We’ve made library runs and devoured all of the Smithsonian titles in the Bookboard library, a series Hope calls “the cool science-and-nature creature books that I love!” (though she’s patiently waiting for a cheetah title to appear).Thanks to all this great educational content, Hope now regales us with intriguing creature details on a daily basis:

  • Mommy, did you know a narwhal’s horn is actually a tooth??
  • Daddy, did you know giraffe’s tongues are blue?
  • Hey guys, did you know that swordfish mommies can lay, like, a million eggs?

    Hope meets "Blur."

    Hope meets “Blur.”

And – of course – did we know that cheetahs run up to 70 mph? Actually, this was the only creature detail we did know, so it’s cool to have our kid teaching us what’s she’s learning.

In other cheetah news, I have to mention the holiday just passed. Thanks to Santa for paying attention and bringing Hope this beautiful, realistic cheetah plush toy (props to parent pleasing toymaker,?Melissa and Doug.) Our ears are still ringing from the sound of my daughter opening this gift and shrieking – “Oh my GOSH, it’s Blur! IT’S BLUR!”

Blur makes a proud, fierce addition to our home. Well, most days, anyway. Today, he’s the guest of honor at my daughter’s tea party.

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Diana is a sociologist, freelance writer and mom, though rarely in that order. Her writing spans topics from parenting joys and challenges to prevention education. She writes a monthly parenting blog for Yahoo and has published feature articles on adoption, family rituals and the childcare industry for parenting publications. Diana earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. These days find her hanging with her husband and book-loving six year old in the San Francisco Bay Area, while happily blogging and serving as a reading advocate for Bookboard.

2 Comments

  1. ken

    February 4, 2014 at 9:42 am

    That’s wonderful! Hope’s early-on love for animals shows a beautiful, unbounded curiosity and empathy. I hadn’t heard of Wild Kratts until a few days ago. I am going to see if my son likes it. He’s a fan of the Octonauts, which has a similar focus on learning about animals (all sea creatures in this case), but he seems otherwise uninterested in animals, even when we’re at the zoo.
    I also think that after a few months of hesitation, I’m really to get on board with Bookboard. We go to the library as often as possible to vary the books we read with Julian, but the idea of having an assortment on the ready with our iPad is hard to resist. It also means (I hope) that he’ll pick up the iPad and ask to read a book with us rather than just using it to stream yet another cartoon on Netflix!

    • Diana

      February 4, 2014 at 10:10 am

      Ken, I think you’ll be happy with both for your son (Wild Kratts and Bookboard, that is) since each engages kid with great content. My kid was so over the top enthralled with Wild Kratts that it was the theme of her sixth birthday party (so glad to avoid princesses and fairies finally!) and, as noted in blog posts, Bookboard is a pretty big deal in our home for so many reasons. What I’m seeing is that, these days, with both print books and Bookboard, my daughter is happy taking time for two kinds of reading: beginning books she is working so hard to read to me; and longer, 64 page chapter books (“look, hardly any pictures and I’m still interested Mom”) that I read to her for pleasure. I like having both types of books stored in her Bookboard library so she can choose books that fit her inclination in the moment — eager and energized to try herself, or tired and wanting to be read to and relax. Have fun exploring these resources!


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