Category Archives: autumn

Make the most of family time this fall with books

 

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator
Family Reading Partnership

Piles of crunchy leaves, a spicy bite in the air, chilly mornings, and flocking geese; all these signs point to fall. When this time of year rolls around, we tend to take notice of and truly appreciate the colorful, yet slowly browning outside world, with a few moments of summer-like sun sprinkled in for good measure. We spend more time at home enjoying the warmth thrown off by a baking oven overflowing with delicious, tempting smells, and lingering just that much longer in the comfort of a cozy blanket with a steaming cuppa and a few good books. Children love the extra family time that comes as a result and reading together is the best way to make the most of it.

Here are some ideas of expanding on your time spent reading together and incorporating books into your fall activities.

‘Leaf Man’ by Lois Ehlert, is a book that features collages of real leaves made to tell the story of the very busy leaf man, traveling wherever the wind takes him. You may enjoy taking a walk outside to collect leaves to make your own leaf people and animals. What types of leaves work best for feet? Heads? Hair?

‘Why Do Leaves Change Color?’ by Betsy Maestro teaches you all about why and how leaves change in the fall when the weather turns cool. You can explore the park or your yard to see what kinds of leaves you can find and talk about how and why the leaves change from green to red, yellow, orange, and brown. If you find a green leaf, make a guess at what color it might turn!

Explore different types of leaves with ‘Autumn Leaves’ by Ken Robbins. How many of the leaves in the book can you identify in your own back yard? To preserve the beautiful leaves and make your own book with them, cut contact paper to the desired size, then press leaves onto the sticky side of the paper. Carefully cover with another sheet of contact paper, slowly smoothing out the air bubbles. Make a cover out of a cereal box or construction paper and decorate.

To learn about the growth cycle of pumpkins, check out ‘Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden’ by George Levenson. You and your child will see the pumpkin’s process from seed, to plant, to fruit, and then as it decomposes. Try it with a pumpkin at home! Cut open a pumpkin and take a look at the seeds. You can even save a few to plant next year. Leave the pumpkin outside and watch it decompose as time goes on. You can even keep a diary of the pumpkin and draw pictures of how it looks as it changes.

‘Pumpkin Soup’ by Helen Cooper is a charming tale about a dog, a cat, and a duck that live together and make pumpkin soup together every night, each with their own special part of the process. Enjoy reading the recipe at the end of the book and following the steps to make the pumpkin soup recipe with your family!

‘Cranberry Thanksgiving’ by Wende and Harry Devlin has always been a favorite at my house. This funny tale offers a glimpse of the New England autumn and teaches us not to judge others by their appearances. You’ll also find the secret recipe for Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread in this book- a fall time favorite that you can recreate with your own family!

‘In November’ by Cynthia Rylant is a sweet story about how the earth and all it’s creatures prepare for winter. When you look outside or go for a walk, what winter preparations do you see taking place? What does your family do to get ready for winter?

 

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Exploring Nature with Books

 

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator

With longer, warmer days and the foliage in full bloom, summer presents a great opportunity to explore the outside world. Imagine walks through the forest, lingering in a garden, swimming and playing in the stream, and laying out at night to discover the constellations. While enjoying these marvelous adventures, don’t forget to bring along some books!

Books enhance outdoor experiences by getting children excited about the possibilities of what can be found right in their own backyard or most any green space. Books inspire children to seek out the magic of the intricately spun web of the spider, the fragrant, spiky needles of the pine, and the pillowy, low-hanging cumulus clouds. Books, particularly field guides and nature focused non-fiction, offer a deeper look at living things and natural occurrences by providing facts, real photographs and/or life-like illustrations, information about life cycles, habitats and diets, and also answers to the many questions children are sure to have when they come across one of nature’s wonders. Field guides are designed to be portable, making them easy to bring along on any outdoor adventure. Plus, there are guides on just about any topic of interest, from amphibians to fossils to mushrooms.

Not only do books and field guides allow a child to explore the world local to them more deeply, they also open up entire new worlds of faraway places like jungles, deserts, outer space and oceans. All of these places (and many more!) can be explored through books. Apart from actually visiting these places, books are the next best way to be immersed in these unfamiliar worlds. As a bonus, you can travel to these places as often as you’d like!

An outdoor adventure can be many things: a visit to a waterfall, a nature walk through downtown, an afternoon at the park, or an afternoon examining the different types of stones in the driveway. Books are the best accessories for these moments, piquing children’s interests and offering more information about their world, introducing unique words and encouraging the practice of never ending exploration. Reading can happen any time, any place — even (and especially) when discovering the outdoors!

Take some books on your next adventure! You can find many field guides and nature focused non-fiction books at the library and your local bookseller. Here are some to get you started:

“The Tree Book for Kids and their Grown Ups: by Gina Ingoglia
“Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World” by Julia Rothman
“The Night Books: Exploring Nature After Dark with Activities, Experiments, and Information” by Pamela Hickman
“Nature’s Day: Discover the World of Wonder on Your Doorstep” by Kay Maguire
“Backyard Birds (Field Guides for Young Naturalists)” by Karen Stray Nolting and Jonathan Latimer
“Insects (National Audubon Society’s First Field Guides)” by Christina Wildson
“Wildflowers (National Audubon Society’s First Field Guides)” by Susan Hood
“Clouds (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Anne Rockwell

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The Importance of Book Series

bear

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator
Family Reading Partnership

Some of the greatest books of all time have been part of a series. The Little House books, Winnie the Pooh, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, to name a few. What compels us to start a series and what keeps us reading until the very end? More than that, why do book series matter?

There are two basic types of book series. The first involves books with interwoven plots, meant to be read sequentially, from the first book to the last. The second type may feature the same characters and setting but, lacking a chronological plot, these books can be read in any order without missing major pieces of the story. Both are equally appealing to readers for each of these reasons.

So what draws us into a series and what keeps us coming back for more? When reading a series, we know there is the promise of more adventures with beloved characters to come after finishing the first book. Having a blank slate stretching multiple volumes, an author is able to develop more complex scenarios and character personalities, deepening our relationship with these fictional friends. Seeing characters work through conflict, take on increased responsibility, and grow in their relationships throughout a series is especially rewarding for children and allows them a type of reference for their future experiences. All of this, in turn, captures our attention and sparks our interest, bringing us back for more. And the more we read, the more we love reading- and that’s what’s important.

Visit your local library to rediscover the book series of your childhood or to fall in love with a new favorite you can share with the young readers in your life.

Favorite Book Series:
“The Magic School Bus” by Joanna Cole
The “Bear” series by Karma Wilson
“If You Give a….” series by Laura Numeroff
“Berenstain Bears” collection by Stan and Jan Berenstain
“Skippyjon Jones” books by Judy Schachner
“Llama, Llama” books by Anna Dewdney

“The Boxcar Children” by Gertrude Chandler Warner
“Mr. Putter and Tabby” by Cynthia Rylant
“Imagination Station” by Paul McCusker
“The Magic Tree House” by Mary Pope Osborne
“The Wingfeather Saga” by Andrew Peterson
“Tales of Magic” by Edward Eager
“Mercy Watson” by Kate DiCamillo
“Time Warp Trio” by Jon Scieszka
“Binky the Space Cat” by Ashley Spires

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Explore the Fall Season with Children’s Books

Experience the colorful, bountiful season of autumn in new ways with ideas from children’s books. Read a book to your young child and then extend the book experience with crafts, cooking, counting, and learning.

Enjoy your time reading and exploring together with some of these books about fall:

Leaf Man

“Leaf Man” by Lois Ehlert. With just a few leaves of different shapes and colors, “leaf man” is created and off on an adventure, sailing through the autumn sky. After reading this book you’ll be inspired to make your own leaf people and animals. Go on a walk and collect leaves, nuts, and other fall treasures to arrange into a story you and your child can make up together. There are also facts in the back of the book so you can learn the names of the trees in your neighborhood.

“Johnny Appleseed” by Steven Kellogg. Enjoy a crunchy red apple as you read the story of the American frontier hero, Jon Chapman, know best as Johnny Appleseed. The text is a bit long, but younger children can see the story unfold in the dynamic illustrations. Facts about the early 1800’s are woven together with some tall tales about Johnny Appleseed’s adventures to make an entertaining story.

“Pumpkin Soup” by Helen Cooper. A cat, a squirrel, and a duck work together to make pumpkin soup the same way, every day, until… Duck decides to do it a different way. Oh no! The three friends have to figure out how to still be friendly to each other. There’s a pumpkin soup recipe included if you want to try cooking up some of your own.

“Apples and Pumpkins” by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Lizzie Rockwell. Apple picking, pumpkin carving, and marveling at red and yellow leaves are all part of autumn fun. Bold, colorful illustrations and simple text introduce young children to the wonders of the season. The book ends with jack-o-lanterns shining and trick-or-treating.

RunawayPumpkin“The Runaway Pumpkin” by Kevin Lewis, illustrated by S.D. Schindler. This is a rollicking, frolicking rhyming journey of the Baxter family trying to catch up with a runaway pumpkin. Preschoolers will giggle at the antics of the chase and silly sounding words in this story.

“Why Do Leaves Change Color?” By Betsy Maestro and Loretta Krupinski. Learn why autumn leaves are so colorful and discover lots of activities you can do with the leaves in your own backyard. This is a “Let’s Read and Find Out Science” book for young children.

“How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?” by Margaret McNamara, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. This is a story of children in a classroom, but also an estimating game using math and science knowledge. Pumpkins seeds are slimy when they come out of a pumpkin, and there are so many to count. Which has more seeds–a small pumpkin or a big one?

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Have a Fruit-full Autumn Reading Together!

We’re in the peak of fruit season in the Finger Lakes in New York  State. We’ve seen cherries on trees earlier this summer; peaches and plums have ripened recently; and now that it’s officially autumn, apples and pears are ready for the picking–and eating.

How many fruits have you introduced to your young child? Read about them in picture books and then try them out. See which fruit your child likes or doesn’t like. Explore the tastes, the textures, and smells. Compare the colors and the shapes. Are there some unusual fruits you’ve seen in books that you can find at the store? Be adventurous and taste something new!

applesgailgibbons

Here are some children’s books to give you ideas:

  • “Eating the Alphabet” by Lois Ehlert. Learn the names of vegetables and fruits from A to Z in this colorful book, then see if you can make your own list of foods for each letter of the alphabet.
  • “Apples” by Gal Gibbons. You will discover how an apple is formed from flower bud to fruit in this non-fiction book. The text introduces new words about pollination at a level that young children will understand.
  • “The Biggest Apple Ever” by Stephen Kroll. Here’s a story about friendship, competition, conflict resolution, and apples, too. This book lends itself to many related projects involving teamwork–with a side of apple pie.
  • “Play with Your Food” by Joost Elffers. Photographs of fruits and vegetables that are slightly altered to give them humorous and witty personalities may give you some ideas for how to creatively play with the food in your own kitchen.
  • “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McClosky. Little Sal and her mother go blueberry picking on one side of a hill while a mother bear and her bear cub look for blueberries on the other side of the hill. Find out what happens when their paths cross.
  • “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. “… and he was still hungry” is the refrain as this growing caterpillar eats his way through a smorgasbord of fruits and other delicious food until he is a big, plump caterpillar ready to become a butterfly.

Happy reading!

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Fall Leaves, Pumpkins, and More!

Its Pumpkin TimeThe landscape will soon be swathed in fiery red, brilliant orange, and tawny yellow colors. The nights are getting longer, the days shorter, and there is a nip in the air. Children are back at school and a routine is setting in for your family. We are thick in the autumn season! Curl up in a blanket with your children, get cozy, and read some books about fall. Here are some ideas:

“It’s Pumpkin Time” by Zoe Hall, illustrated by Shari Halpern. The illustrations are in Eric Carle-style collage made with beautiful hand-colored paper. The story tells about how a pumpkin grows from a small seed to big orange globe that can become a jack-o-lantern.  

“Mouse’s First Fall” by Lauren Thompson and Buket Ergodan is a board book for babies and toddlers. Simple descriptions of autumn and charming illustrations give young children words for the colors and shapes they and how much fun it is jump in a pile of leaves. This is just one in the series of  “Mouse’s First” board books.

MousesFirstFall

“Fletcher and the Falling Leaves” by Julia Rawlinson, pictures by Tiphanie Beeke.  Fletcher is a young fox. He is alarmed when he sees a leaf fall off a tree in autumn. Then more leaves float to the ground. He wants to put them all back! But, he is finally convinced that it is ok for the leaves to fall off the trees when he sees how other animals use them for nests and to keep warm. When the first frost comes, the bare branches of the tree look magically glittery and Fletcher appreciates how a tree is beautiful in every season.

”The Biggest Apple Ever” by Stephen Kroll. Mouse characters Clayton and Desmond join a contest to find the biggest apple ever. Will they compete with each other, work together, or come up with another way to enjoy the contest? For school-aged children, the theme of this story is friendship.

“Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf” by Lois Ehlert. Colorful fall leaves are just one part of the life-cycle of a tree. Ehlert starts with the planting of a small maple sapling and then shows how it grows to maturity, using language that a young child will understand. A glossary in the back gives more details such as how a tree absorbs nutrients and uses photosynthesis. Illustrations are collage with cut paper, real seeds, fabric, wire, and plant material.

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