Children's Book Columns
Every Wednesday night when I was a child, I would put on my most old-fashioned nightgown and the bonnet my mother had sewn and watch Little House on the Prairie. I received the Garth Williams illustrated books as a Christmas present and read them repeatedly. Little did I know, but I was “geeking” out and “cosplaying” (short for costume play.) Recently, I watched a Little House reunion on TV and was enthralled by all three hours, and, no, I didn’t wear my bonnet. The only thing that would have made it better was having someone to share it with.
Even without a visit to a local art museum, young children can be exposed to great art. Picture books offer not just great stories, but are a feast of color, movement, and images that stimulate not only children’s brains, but also their creativity. When selecting these books, make a conscious effort to choose a variety of styles, not just those that immediately appeal to you, and let your child pick some as well. Broad exposure will excite the imagination! In the following titles, art and story combine for terrific and creative books that are bound to inspire.
You’ve probably heard the rumors, the ones that say that libraries and print books aren’t as popular as they once were, but as the oft mangled quote from Mark Twain says, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” A not too long ago study by the Pew Research Center on the Future of Libraries, reinforces our experiences.
I know what you’re thinking, wrong holiday, but if your winter vacation time is anything like mine you will be on the open road as much as you’ll be at home. Our family will while away the traffic by listening to audiobooks. This past year I’ve started listening more regularly. It’s been a great way to increase the number of books I “read” and makes my short commute go even more quickly. Here are some of my favorite audios that promise to entrance a car full of family no matter how long the journey.
Forbidding outside temperatures aside, there are so many reasons to curl up with a great book. Readers meet a variety of fascinating characters and there’s an empathy that comes from reading about different lives and experiences that carries over to the real world. They learn new perspectives and have vicarious experiences. Personally, I have no ambition to ever sail around the world, but I love to read books about those who do. Books can also create an atmosphere that oozes from the pages and there’s just something wonderful about the lushness of great writing and the aha moment of discovering new words. Here are a few books that encompass all of these characteristics.
Like most families, we have our favorite holiday traditions. We decorate our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving and, every year, my husband watches Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol. When I was young, my father always read C. Clement Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas” to my brother and I. When my son was born, I couldn’t wait to uphold the tradition and searched for the just the right version that offered beautiful, detailed illustrations with a classic-looking Santa. I hope your family has a favorite holiday read aloud. If “The Night Before Christmas” isn’t for you here are a couple of other suggestions; of course there are many more possibilities to enjoy as well.
My niece is a tactile learner and uses touch to explore her world. That doesn’t work so well in an art museum or when there’s an unknown sticky substance nearby, but it’s ideal for cooking! She especially enjoys stirring, whisking and manning the salad spinner. Her enthusiasm can be challenging for adults trying to “get things done” but she pitches in whenever possible. This year, engage children in the holiday cooking and they will feel proud to have part in the celebration. You can also share your family’s culinary creations with the community by using #crrlfallfood on your favorite social media sites, including Facebook and Pinterest. Here are some cookbooks to inspire and help make cooking as a family easy and fun!
Some books just aren’t meant to be read alone by an adult sitting quietly on her couch with no children in sight; naming no names of course. They demand an audience so that the actions aren’t just read, but performed, and so that the words aren’t just said, but shouted! You don’t need a room full of children to enjoy books at this level, this is the kind of fun that can be had even if there are just two of you!
Recently at the library, it’s all about George. In preparation for our current Rappahannock Reads title, “George Washington, Spymaster” by Thomas B. Allen each branch has cardboard cutouts of the big man himself just waiting for you to take a selfie. If you aspire to be more like George, then your family can enjoy our scavenger hunt and claim your prize--a George Washington mask!
It is vital for early elementary aged children to read introductory chapter books that they enjoy. Reading is fun, but when you’re just learning sometimes you need encouragement that the hard work is worth it! Even if your young person isn’t ready to tackle the following books independently, they are great read alouds that you both will enjoy while reinforcing the message that--you guessed it--reading is fun!