Category Archives: winter

My Favorite Book Tradition

books

by Melissa Perry
Program Coordinator
Family Reading Partnership

 

As the leaves start to fall and the nights set in ever earlier, with signs of Jack Frost’s midnight escapades when we wake, thoughts in my home start wandering toward ‘the books’. Even my anticipation rises as I look forward to the joy of a few quiet hours, so precious in themselves as a parent, spent pouring over the books, reliving heart-warming memories as I wrap the books with newspaper or the remnants of last year’s holiday paper. When the time comes, these books will be unwrapped, more carefully than any gift, in reverence of what they mean to our family- togetherness and love during the holiday season.

These books are a collection of both old and some new holiday and winter-themed tales, collected overtime from many places- my childhood, from loved ones, from Bright Red Bookshelves in the community, yard sales, thrift stores, school book fairs, and local booksellers- all selected to be part of this elite group of books because they are meaningful to our family in some way. Lovingly wrapped and cradled in their own festive crate, these books have a designated place of honor amidst our holiday décor.

Each night, starting the day after Thanksgiving and ending on our big winter holiday, our family chooses two wrapped books from the crate. Before the books are unwrapped, the children love to try to guess which book is under the paper, in hopes of getting their favorites but never disappointed if it isn’t because they are all so special to us. Then, we pile onto the couch, with our cat, inevitably, budging his way on to someone’s lap, not willing to miss this family holiday book tradition, and we snuggle under the quilt meticulously hand-stitched so long ago by my beloved great-grandmother to lose ourselves in the spirit-lifting winter wonderlands of these stories.

This nightly ritual gathers us together and gives us pause during the bustling holiday season. We crave these quiet moments of reading and reminiscing together, all heading to bed with sweet words and memories to keep us cozy during the long winter nights. These books, gifts in themselves to be sure, become a focal point of our holiday celebrations, with reading together the most treasured piece of this seasonal ritual.

After the holidays, when all the books have been read and re-read countless times, the crate of holiday joy is quietly tucked away in the back of a dark closet. There they will await their time of glory next holiday season.

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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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Books: A Holiday Tradition

by Melissa Perry, Program Coordinator, Family Reading Partnership

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No matter which holidays you celebrate this time of year; we all experience the same sense of anticipation and excitement, the same yearning for familiar traditions. An act that, if missed, makes the special day seem not quite complete.

The best traditions are those that bring families together. Sharing the same special story each year on the same special day is a simple tradition that evokes heart-warming images of snuggling up together in a cozy spot and reading a favorite story. Perhaps it is one you enjoyed as a child and are now able to share with your own little ones. Or maybe it is a book you and your children are discovering together for the first time. Regardless of which book you are reading, it is the act of reading together that is most important.

So, how do you choose just the right book for the occasion? Really, any book that is significant to the event will do. A book given as a gift to celebrate a child’s birth or adoption can be read each year on the child’s special day. A book about winter can be read after the first visit from Jack Frost, and books treasured by parents in their youth can be shared with their children when they reach that same particular age. The possibilities are endless.

To make your chosen books even more beloved, present them as gifts to your children. A book’s value and meaning increases tenfold when it is given as a beautifully wrapped gift. A fun way to surprise family members is to place wrapped books at the foot of the recipients’ beds. When they open their eyes the next morning, they will be delighted to discover a lovely gift awaiting them – ones that can be opened again and again. This tradition has come to be known as “A Book On Every Bed.”

Thousands of families across country have embraced this tradition of leaving wrapped books for loved ones to discover on a day that is meaningful to them, beginning the special day with a special gift. We invite you and your family to join the fun! For those of you with little ones, try giving gifts of books for them to find on their beds for them to open right away; not only will they see books as an important gift, but, it may also just keep them in bed a little longer that morning!

For more information about “A Book On Every Bed” please visit www.familyreading.org.

 

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Wrap Up and Read!

by Katrina Morse, Family Reading Partnership

How are you staying warm this cold winter week? How about wrapping up in a cozy blanket with your young children and reading some favorite books aloud? Make it a daily routine to choose some books in the late afternoon when everyone is home. Find a spot on the couch or floor and then pull a blanket around everyone and enjoy your time imagining, exploring, and traveling through the stories. Here are some authors that write engaging stories that make great read-aloud:

Pat Hutchins writes stories that each answer a simple question. What happened to the cookies in “The Doorbell Rang”? What is the fox going to do next in “Rosie’s Walk”? Will everyone get the right message in “The Surprise Party”? Her writing style creates suspense that will keep your child wondering what will happen next.

Time-to-SleepDenise Fleming writes for the very young, but in a way that entertains grown-ups too. Her stories have things to find on each page if you look closely. There is rhyme, alliteration, and onomatopoeia that will tickle your tongue and make your child giggle. “Beetle Bop,” “Lunch,” and “Time to Sleep” are just a few of Fleming’s many books, all with illustrations created with her beautiful, colorful handmade paper.

Margaret Wise Brown’s stories have stood the test of time. Her main characters are usually animals that do people activities. “Goodnight Moon” and “Runaway Bunny” have the child-like sensibility of magical realism. Her books often have things in the illustrations that aren’t mentioned in the story but are fun to discover. Look for the little yellow butterfly in “Big Red Barn.” Can your child find the 5 sleeping kittens “Goodnight Little One”?

Mem Fox, an Australian author, has a book for every occasion. “Time for Bed” is a sleepy story that introduces animals. “Where’s the Green Sheep?” is a humorous hide-and-seek story. “Koala Lou” tells about a mother’s never-ending love.

KatyandtheBigSnow

Virginia Lee Burton wrote books in the 1940’s, so you and your child may be surprised by some of the “old-fashioned” ways of living shown in the illustrations. There were no cell phones or computers in those times! These stories will delight children with the constant action and determination of the main characters. There is a tractor in “Katy and the Big Snow,” a steam shovel in “Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel,” and a family’s home in “This Little House” that all have personalities that are brave and unselfish.

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Winter Words… Brrr!

SnowmanReading11CLRWith snow in the forecast and much more cold weather ahead, it’s time to read about the season with your children and appreciate winter while it’s here. Sure it’s chilly, but that’s the fun! There are plenty of ways to play with snow and traditions you can start now so your family will look forward to this time of year.

Winter books to read with your young child:

“The First Day of Winter” by Denise Fleming. What does it take to build a snow person? A song and friends! Written to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” this tale describes the ten days leading up to creating the perfect snow creature (will it be a snow man or snow woman?). Collecting trimmings such as a cap, mittens, and pockets builds the anticipation. Fleming illustrates her books with handmade paper images that are warm and colorful and uses playful words combinations.

snowballs “Snowballs” by Lois Ehlert. Each image in the book is a collage with added found objects such as buttons, fabric, and seeds. Children can recreate Ehlert’s illustrations outside with real snow and household items. Pack some snowballs; roll them in more snow to make them big, then add clothes, kitchen gadgets, sewing materials, and whatever else is handy to make a whole family out of snow. Make an indoor snow family by using white paper circles and small items you have at home, glued or placed on the paper snowballs.

“It’s Winter” by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Susan Swan. Even though this is written as a story, this book is full of facts about cold weather, snowflakes, and the change of seasons. Illustrations are beautiful cut-paper artwork and there are suggestions for activities in the back of the book. This book is the third book in a series of four titles on the various seasons, appropriate for early elementary ages.

“Snow” by Roy McKie and P.D. Eastman. Two kids play in the snow and tell us about the fun they have skiing, making snow angels, building an igloo, making a snowman, and finally relaxing with mugs of hot cocoa. The rhyming text in this book is designed for beginning readers.

“Animals in Winter” by Henrietta Bancroft. Illustrated by Helen K. Davie. Where do monarch butterflies go in winter? What does a woodchuck do when the grass is covered in snow? What do mice and deer find to eat when it is cold out? Each illustration in this short book has a few lines of simple text about the winter habits of a variety of animals.

“Snow” by Uri Shulevitz. You know the kind of day when the snow falls lightly, but steadily? The fluffy snowflakes drop down lazily and no one thinks it is anything to worry about. In this story, a boy and his dog know that a few snowflakes can add up to a city being transformed into a winter wonderland, despite what all the grown-ups think. The simple, poetic text paired with watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations mimic the mood of this slowly building snowfall.

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