Due to the professional lives of my parents, as a young child I had many opportunities to be taken along to meetings and conferences. I would often pass the time by playing with my father’s hands. I would just lift up each finger and plop it back down, cross them over each other, play spin the wedding ring, make a hand sandwich and even quietly play a hand tower game where I’d trap my little hands in between my dad’s larger ones and try to “escape.” Every once in a while there would even be a small piece of hard candy hidden in his hand.
In the grocery store line, at the doctor’s office or on a rainy day at home, your hands can also be educational entertainment for your little one. If you want to see some hands in action, enjoy Kathy Reid-Naiman’s DVD, “Fingerplays! Hands That Tell a Story.” Make your finger a character in the book “The Game of Finger Worms” by Hervé Tullet. If you feel adventurous, make your own finger stage by cutting a couple holes in a piece of cardboard or a small box. Take turns telling stories with your child about the finger’s adventures! Don’t forget, we also have all of our favorite fingerplays in a booklet you can take home. Just ask for one at the children’s desk.
I have strong memories of my mother “needing” my help to count or stir things as she baked. She had me move toothpicks from one pile to another to keep track of the number of eggs, cups of flour and so on as “we” baked. Now I know she had me participate for many reasons. I was kept busy, and these activities helped my motor skills, math skills and even my communication skills. As you cook with your child and wait for something to finish baking, enjoy sharing some of these tales of baked goods.
Have a school-age child working on fine motor skills and who loves art? Decorate cakes in an art bakery. Explore fun ways to work on math. Enjoy!
Lately I have found myself drawn to picture books that show empathy and selfless acts. I have never been a fan of the didactic book when it comes to life lessons. I believe that when stories are read or told, the lessons they contain can only truly “stick” when the recipient is ready to hear them. Three books have recently caught my eye as wonderful stories of selfless acts. Not only do they show kindness, but they also show the giving of time and energy. These gentle books can sometimes be overlooked and under-appreciated, but I recommend them for those children ready for messages about thoughtfulness and compassion. They all happen to have birds in them (as the hero or as the recipient), and all three use different art mediums.
“When Blue Met Egg” by Lindsay Ward
A misguided but loving bird mistakes a snowball for an egg and tries to get the egg back its mother.
Medium: Cut paper illustrations. Continue reading
Any time is a good time for a “book walk,” but chilly temperatures make winter a great time for this indoor pre-reading activity. A book or picture walk takes place before you begin reading and is a chance for your child to look through the book and learn about its different parts: front cover, back cover, spine, title page, author and/or illustrator. Don’t forget to let kids hold and turn the pages of the book sometimes.
If the book is nonfiction, you can discuss items like indexes, tables of contents, glossaries and charts. This is also an opportunity to engage in a predictions conversation. What do you think the story is about? Can you tell what the main plot of the story will be? Who are the main characters of the story? Is there a certain emotion conveyed by the illustrations? The first time you try this, it might be helpful to model the activity by thinking aloud as you look through the pages, asking simple questions and answering some of them: Continue reading
On the cover of some classic titles in the juvenile section, in a subtitle or small print, you will sometimes find the words, “based on,” “adapted from,” “adapted by,” “retold by” or “from the story by.” These phrases indicate that you hold in your hand not the original book by an author but a re-written version, usually written at a lower reading level for a younger audience than that originally intended for the work. Usually true to some of the plot points, adaptations tend to strip away the original language the author used. The flavor of what makes the story a classic can become unintentionally lost. The challenge is to make sure that your reader is aware of the great differences between the original and the adaptation.
Over the years I have talked with older kids who think they have read many classics, but what they have really read are the adapted or condensed versions of these works. My fear as a librarian is that these kids will miss reading the original versions and gaining an understanding of what truly makes them classics. Why are we in a hurry? And how can we share classics in their intended form with young readers? Continue reading