Category Archives: imagination

Laugh It Up!

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

Humor can help create friendships, make difficult situations easier, and can make children beg for more books. Humor can work wonders! A lot of humor is based on portraying a skewed view of a normal situation. Children age 3 to 4 and up can start appreciating how something should be, and then the funny alternative way it is described in words and pictures.

What if animals took over a farm for the farmer? What if cows could type? What if you knew a woman named Mrs. Submarine or a housefly that danced? Characters changing places and play on words make stories silly and encourage creative thinking.

Laugh it up with these funny books:

“Buggy Riddles” by Katy Hall and Lisa Eisenberg, pictures by Simms Taback. This is a book of riddle just right for a young child. Q: How do you start a lightning bug race? A: On your mark! Get set! Glow! and Q: What does a fruit fly do in a cornfield? A: goes in one ear and out the other! Look for the many other riddle books by these two authors.

“Rainy Morning” by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by Jill Pinkwater. One rainy morning a husband and wife are having hot, corn muffins for breakfast. “Would you like another breakfast, dear?” Mrs. Submarine asks her husband. “I’ve had two breakfasts already,” Mr. Submarine says. “But it is raining very hard. I will have one more breakfast, please, but just a small one.” From there, you won’t believe who joins them for a muffin!

“Cows in the Kitchen” by June Crebbin, illustrated by Katharine McEwen. Pigs in the pantry? Ducks in the dishes? Hens on the hat stand? Silly, silly, pre-school silliness!

“Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type,” written by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin. A Caldecott Award winner for its bold and whimsical illustrations, this book is reportedly humorous to even two year-olds. Cows can’t type! Cows don’t use electric blankets! Look closely at the illustrations for some surprises.

“Quiet Night” by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by John Manders. A cumulative story that starts with one very large mouthed frog croaking “Ba-rum!” and ends with ten campers yawning on a now noisy night. The exaggerated illustrations are even funnier than the noises.

“Quick! Turn the Page!” By James Stevenson. An interactive story that will tickle your child’s funny bone. This may become your new favorite family book!

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Bring Books to Life by Connecting to Activities

Bring books to life for your child! Read a book, then experience what you read by connecting the story to the real world. By extending the book to include the sights, sounds, textures, smells, and tastes of real life, the written word and flat pictures in a book become a multidimensional and memorable experience.

You could read a book about food, such as “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” by Judi Barrett or “Dragons Love Tacos” by Adam Rubin and then eat some spaghetti or make your own tacos. Read the book while you sample the food and the story will become an event that your child won’t forget.

You could read “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” by Mo Willems and then take a real bus ride; or read “Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type” by Doreen Cronin and then type and send a real letter or email to someone your child knows. (Grandma will love getting a personal note from her grandchild.)

A great way to teach your child about music is to read books about music and instruments and then listen to the real thing. There are many free and low cost concerts in your community and at schools that your child may enjoy. Make sure to point out the instruments that you have read about and listen to how each sounds. Stay at a live performance only as long as your child is interested, so that this introduction to music is a pleasant experience for everyone.

Some children’s books about music that will make you tap your toes:

  • “Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin” by Lloyd Moss, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, introduces ten instruments in an orchestra, in rhyming text with illustrations that curve with the rhythm of the music. 
  • “The Bat Boy and his Violin” by Gavin Curtis, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, is an endearing story about a young African American boy who would rather play violin than be the bat boy for his father’s baseball team. The boy’s expert music making ends up helping the team overcome a losing streak, and helps win over his dad’s heart. Striking watercolor illustrations are based on extensive research of the time period.
  • “Moose Music” by Sue Porter. When Moose finds a violin and bow in a mud puddle in the woods, he finds out that the rusty strings produce an ear-splitting screech that no animal in the woods can tolerate… except for a lady moose who has a raspy, howling voice. Children will laugh at this pair.
  • “This Jazz Man” by Karen Ehrhardt, illustrated by R.G. Roth. The bouncy text of this book is based on the childhood tune, “This Old Man” and the illustrations are lively collage. The book begins with: “This Jazz Man, he plays one. He plays rhythm with his thumb. With a snap, snap, snazzy-snap, give the man a hand, this jazz man scats with the band.” The book ends with brief histories of nine jazz musicians from the thirties and forties.

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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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Connecting with Grandchildren and Books via Skype

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by Elizabeth Stilwell
Early Childhood Specialist

If you are like many grandparents today, you may be experiencing the “love lag” of having young grandchildren who live far away and out of arm’s reach. More and more long distance grandparents are closing that gap using Skype, a service that allows you to communicate by voice and video over your computer. Seeing your grandchild on screen, watching all the new developments and making sure that they are familiar with your voice and your face, can make a big difference in feeling connected. Skype is also a great way to create read-aloud rituals with toddlers and young children.

 

If you are new to Skype – don’t worry! Chances are that you have everything you need to Skype. The setup involves a computer and a webcam. Most newer computers come with built-in webcams. Your computer will need a high-speed connection and you’ll need to use a speaker or earphones. That’s it! Then go to skype.com and set up your account. It is a free service and your adult children can help you with the simple set up and operations.

 

Reading aloud to children is a time-honored tradition used by grandparents to create special connections and memories with grandchildren. Although it’s not the same as having a little one snuggled on your lap, starting read-aloud rituals through Skype is another way to create and maintain meaningful relationships. Here are a few tips to make this experience more engaging for your grandchild and more rewarding to you.

 

  1. Choose books that are simple and age appropriate.   Often we remember childhood books that we read to young children when they were five or six. If you are reading to a toddler, classic picture books like ‘Make Way for Ducklings,’ or ‘The Little Engine That Could,’ have too much text and plot to keep a very young child engaged. It’s best to start with a simple board book, possibly with rhyming words or repeated phrases. Visit your library and get some help from the children’s librarian to find a rich selection of stories that are appropriate for you grandchild. The best part of this is that you can then invite your grandchild (and his/her parents) to check out the same story at his or her own local library!

 

  1. Make a “Skype date” for your read-aloud. Call or text your adult children to find a time that works for you to read to your grandchild. This should be separate from a regular video chat. The read-aloud Skype date will be a special time for you to share a story. Eventually try to set up a regular reading time that you can all plan on and look forward to.

 

  1. Practice the logistics of Skype reading with your spouse or another adult. It might feel awkward at first and if you practice you can be sure that you are holding the book so the child can see the illustrations and that you’re comfortable. Try pausing after reading each page and then do a “close up” so your grandchild can point to things in the illustration, just as they would in a traditional book. Read through the story in advance so you can anticipate characters, plot, and create special voices.

 

  1. Add a finger play, rhyme or song. Often at library story times for young children, the experience starts with a brief song or finger-play. This “warms up” the audience and helps the children settle in for the story. You could start each Skype story-time with the Itsy-Bitsy Spider, Patty-Cake, or any other simple song or finger play. Here is a website with songs and finger plays in case you need some inspiration! http://www.songsforteaching.com/fingerplays

 

  1. Read chapter books to older children. At Family Reading Partnership we believe that reading aloud to children should continue well beyond the time they can read independently. Sharing reading time with older children through Skype is a gift of time that you as a grandparent can give. It might be while parents are busy making dinner or as a break from homework. Invite your grandchild to check some books out of the library, choose a book to share and text you the title so you can check out the same book. Or, as a special treat, send a copy of a book to the child, maybe one that you remember reading aloud to your own children. Invite your grandchild to read ahead if it’s too hard to wait for your next Skype reading time but to let you know so you can do the same. Then have a conversation about the book in your own private Skype “book group”. In real time, these focused interactions can sometimes be hard to schedule in the busy world of young families. Skype can actually be a more intentional one to one interaction with an older grandchild.

 

There is a quote I love by Lois Wyse that says, “Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation”. Sharing books through Skype is one more way for long distance grandparents to help connect the dots!

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Modern libraries have much to offer

 

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator

When you think of a library, what image comes to mind? A large, dusty room patrolled by a stern-looking librarian ready to glare at and shush you if you dare to make a peep? Or do you think of friendly, light-filled rooms full of activity and smiling faces, a happy librarian on the floor singing and doing finger plays; while in the next room, children are building with Legos and families are designing forts to act as their very own reading oasis for the evening? If the latter description doesn’t sound much like a library to you, it’s time to take a trip to your local library!

Modern libraries are gathering places for the community. At the library, one can view an art exhibit, listen to lectures, watch movies, and participate in book groups. Patrons can enjoy any variety of story times, read with cats and dogs, treat their favorite plush friend to a sleepover, participate in STEM events, play games and, of course, read! And all of those activities and books you can read? They’re free. And open to everyone. These books and activities are the library’s gift to the community.

Libraries have so much to offer, much more than I have mentioned here. The next time you’re looking for something to do, head to your local library! Check out the variety of activities your library has to offer. From infants to seniors and every age in between- the library has something for everyone!

Check out these events happening at local libraries:

Tompkins County Public Library

Laura Doherty Performance: Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Laura Doherty will make a rare tour stop in Ithaca. She has won multiple awards, including the American Library Association’s prestigious Notable Children’s Recording Award.

LEGO at the Library: Saturdays from 2 to 3 p.m. Children are invited to attend this weekly LEGO building program. ‘LEGO at the Library’ encourages children to use their imaginations or LEGO books from the TCPL collection to create their own LEGO art! The library provides LEGO bricks, and all creation will be displayed at the library for one week!

Yoga Storytime with Diane Hamilton: Wednesday August 24 and 31 from 10 to 10:45 a.m. Children ages 3-10 are invited to join yoga instructor Diane Hamilton for ‘Yoga Storytime’ to bring favorite stories to life with yoga pose. No yoga experience or mat required, but comfortable clothing is recommended.

Ulysses Philomathic Library

Farmers’ Market Storytime: Wednesdays until October 26, from 5 to 6 p.m. at Trumansburg Farmer’s Market.

Summer Storytime and Art Project: Thursdays until September 29, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Southworth Library

Guided Storywalk: August 20 and 27 from 11 a.m. to noon at the Montgomery Park Storywalk.

Pajama Storytime and Author Visit: Friday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Children will hear “How to Put Your Parents to Bed’ by Mylisa Larsen.

Lansing Community Library

Preschool Storytime: Every Tuesday at 1 p.m. This event includes stories, crafts and fun for preschool children.

Toddler Storytime: Every Thursday from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Geared especially toward toddlers with new themes each week!

Newfield Public Library

Family Storytime: Every Tuesday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Themes for the next two events are games and the circus!

Groton Public Library

Fun Day: Every Tuesday until August 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Join other kids for a half-day of fun and activity that includes read-aloud, crafts, lunch and free play!

Tween Nerf Wars @ the Village Park: Aug. 26 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Bring your nerf guns and ammo, if you have them. Some are available to borrow. Hot dogs and s’mores provided!

For complete lists of activities, please visit each library’s website.

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Imagine What Is in a Book!

Picture books help children expand their imagination. Reading stories about how other people think, what they do, and places that are different than their own, help children learn new vocabulary and think more creatively. It helps them be better problem solvers! Any book can be an adventure for a child when you talk about it as you tell the story. Ask your child questions, suggest some different endings to the book, and talk about new ideas. See if some of the following get your child’s creative juices flowing.

“Now What Can I Do?” by Margaret Park Bridges, pictures by Melissa Sweet. A raccoon child wonders what he can do now that it’s raining outside. Every parent knows that complaint! His mom sees all the chores to do inside and helps her son see how fun it can be to make everything into a game. Making his bed is much more fun if he pretends his bed is a boat. Putting toys away becomes herding cattle. Putting socks in a drawer is like making a slam dunk in a basketball game. Brushing teeth can be pretending to be a singer. After reading this book, you and your child can think of even more fun you could have around the house using just a little imagination.

“Magic Box” by Katie Cleminson. When a girl pretends she is a master magician, she makes animals appear and disappear in great abundance. Animals can float and play music too! Illustrations are ink outlines with blues and reds splattered into the background. With a wave of her magic wand, everything vanishes… except one thing… Read the book to find out what is left!

“Red Wagon” by Renata Liwska. Lucy has a new, bright red wagon and is ready to play, but her mother wants Lucy to use the wagon for chores. Instead of pouting, Lucy does her chores with her wagon and her trip to the market becomes a high-seas adventure, a ride through outer space, and a day at the circus.

DoCowboysRideBikes “Do Cowboys Ride Bikes?” by Kathy Tucker, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott. A question on each page and then a rhyming answer tell about cowboy life, from what they eat and say, to what they do at night. This book is a great conversation starter. Is cowboy life easy or hard, fun or just a job? After this book you can read, “Do Pirates Take Baths?” by the same author/illustrator team.

“Mouse Mess” by Linnea Riley. What would your life be like if you were a mouse? This rhyming story has illustrations with big bold shapes and colors for young children. Mouse has fun after the humans go to bed, raking the spilled corn flakes, nibbling food, making a castle with brown sugar, taking tops off of jars–what a mess! After his night of adventure he takes a bath and goes to bed. Will the humans know that he has been there?

 

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