Friday nights are “fun night” for our family. Usually, this means we watch a family/kid friendly movie. Recently, now that Raisin is five, we’re branching out to board games. (When the favorite board game was Candy Land, I really did not like that option every week.) Today, Raisin requested that we read books together.
Yes, my five-year-old son wanted to spend an hour and a half reading with me. This is why I did my 1000 books project with him, and why I’m doing it all over again with my baby. Reading together as a family truly is fun. I’ve grown my son into what I am certain will be a life-long reader.
Here are some of the books we enjoyed.
Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (Viking, 1978) is a wonderful take on both Nursery Rhymes and the fun game “I Spy.” On each page is a simple rhyming phrase, with a picture opposite with someone for us to look for. For example, the first page says “Each Peach Pear Plum / I Spy Tom Thumb.” IN the picture, we see peach, pear, and plum trees, and Tom Thumb is hiding in the branches. The fairy tale characters who appear include the Three Bears, Baby Bunting, Mother Hubbard, Cinderella, Jack and Jill, Little Bo Peep, and more. In the end, all come together for a picnic in that same fruit orchard. I loved how this author/illustrator team focused on such a variety of beloved characters (both fairy tales and nursery rhyme characters), and I love how each page has a hidden friend to find. My baby loved finding Baby Bunting. She stopped on that page and said “baby” for about five minutes while my son and I went on to the next book.
When No One is Watching by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by David A. Johnson (Eeerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2013) is about a girl who loves to be crazy (dancing, singing, grunting disapproval, and so forth) but only when no one is watching. If she’s around others, she is quite and sullen. She’s withdrawn and unhappy. At the end, we find that she likes it this way. Her best friend is the same way, and when they are together, they can be crazy together. I am a true introvert myself, although I can appreciate being around others, so I really related to this book. I was the same way as a kid. I love how the illustrations give her a sense of action on the “alone” pages: she appears in a few different poses, as she dances for example, so we can see just how much she is a part of things. On the “everyone’s watching” page, however, she sits in one place and others all appear dull and uninteresting. The illustrations really capture the feelings I remember from being a shy girl just bottling up my desire to dance. And I’m so pleased that her ultimate resolution is so satisfying: that she can find her place with her friend. That is what I’ve found in my life too. Nothing is better than a friend.
Night Knight by Owen Davey (Templar Books, 2011) begins and ends with a boy with a colander as a hat, holding a play horse, but the rest of the illustrations show a different story: a knight coming to the end of his day. The illustrations are playful and fun as the “knight” bathes with the fishes, jumps over crocodiles, and heads to his tower room. The story is one all kids can relate to – the need to go to bed – and yet the story comes across as playful and original. It’s easier to head to bed when it becomes a game. Raisin and I liked the imagination in this story, and the fact that the story is told through the pictures with just a few words on the page makes it extra appropriate for a young child resisting bedtime. It’s just long enough to give the child an amusing story they can relate to, but not too wordy to be a quick bedtime story to help a child calm down. I personally really liked the muted color palate (orange, yellows, and purplish-blue) and the geometric illustrations. This title was a Cybils 2012 Fiction Picture Book pick. If only baby Strawberry had stayed awake long enough to enjoy this one with us!
What did you read with your kids this week?