Sunday, December 13, 2009
Autumn books make way for Winter
With the arrival of the first snow, it felt like time to change the autumn book basket to winter. I had more help with the label this time: one of the girls wrote "Win," a boy finished up "ter," trimmed the cardboard around the word and punched a hole in the top, and then he and a friend tied it to the basket. Gotta love cooperative efforts!
I have a LOT of winter books. These are the ones we're reading now:
Winter Story by Jill Barklem. As the kids get older, they're really enjoying the books in the Brambly Hedge series. We love the tiny detailed illustrations. This one's perfect for the girls in my group right now, because they love to play "going to the ball." What could be more beautiful than an ice ball?
First Snow by Emily Arnold McCully. I am a big fan of wordless books, and have quite a collection of them. This one, about a young mouse braving sledding the big hill for the first time, is one of the children's favorites. (I see that newer editions have added words. What a shame!)
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. I can't imagine that anyone doesn't know this beautiful classic yet, but if you don't, get yourself to a library right away! I loved it as a child, and still do. It's got a gentleness missing from so many newer books.
Grandmother Winter by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Beth Krommes. A lovely introduction to metaphor, grandmother winter stitches goose feathers into a quilt, then, in shaking it, makes it snow. Again, I love the gentleness. And the crafty part and the collecting feathers part are just right for my group, who love to gather chicken feathers and use them in their artwork.
Stella, Queen of the Snow by Marie-Louise Gay. Stella's misinformation about the natural world to her inquisitive little brother Sam is highly entertaining to my 4-year-olds.
Snow by Uri Shulevitz. The boy knows it's going to snow, but none of the adults believe him. I love the way this book captures the magic and optimism of childhood.
The Mitten by Jan Brett. We read this one every year. This year, the kids are starting to notice and appreciate the details and hints in the elaborate border artwork. I love it when a book offers something new to discover each time you read it.
The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren. The kids expect the Tomten to be scary, and are surprised over and over again that he's not. I like challenging that strange-looking-means-bad assumption. Despite the troll-like Tomten, this book is sweet and reassuringly peaceful.
The Winter Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Charles G. Shaw. My mother gave me 4 of these "noisy" books when I began teaching; they'd been some of her favorites as a girl. Margaret Wise Brown hits the mark every time; she has just the right pace and tone for kids. My 2-year-olds, in particular, love this one.
In the Snow by Sharon Phillips Denslow and illustrated by Nancy Tafuri. I love Tafuri's simple animal drawings. In this one, a child leaves out food for the backyard animals, and as they each come to eat, they're identified by specific name--a lovely introduction to the animals you might see in your yard at this time of year.
Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett (again). A variation on the classic tale, in which the gingerbread baby gets to live happily ever after.
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman. This is one of those books that I think has been over-marketed, with too many spin-offs. But this original one, I love. Great language, great rhythm, great illustrations. We read it over and over, every year.
Let's Go Home, Little Bear by Martin Waddell with illustrations by Barbara Firth. This author/illustrator team is always a winner, as far as my kids are concerned. This is probably my favorite big bear/little bear book.
Winter Poems collected by Barbara Rogasky and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Great poems, beautiful illustrations, and nothing about holidays, so it's perfect when what you want is specifically "winter."
Tom and Pippo in the Snow by Helen Oxenbury. I have several of the Tom and Pippo books, perfect for reading with toddlers because they so well represent their experience (here, the fear and then thrill of a first time on a sled).
In the Snow: Who's Been Here? by Lindsay Barrett George. A brother and sister find evidence of animals in the snow and we try to guess "who's been here?" The kids ask for this one over and over again, I think because they're trying to remember all the hard-to-guess answers.
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. A classic wordless book, so fun to study for all the tiny detail. Be prepared to cry at the end!
The Snow Speaks by Nancy White Carlstrom and illustrated by Jane Dyer. The tone of the poetic text of this one is probably better suited to bedtime than to the energy of midday, but I had to include it in the basket anyway, because I am in love with Jane Dyer's illustrations.
Fox's Dream by Tejima. The boys in my group can't get enough of foxes. This one shows fox gently, dreaming of spring and family, which I appreciate as a balance to all the fox-as-bad-guy books out there.
All You Need for a Snowman by Rebecca Bond. I am in love with Rebecca Bond's vision of childhood. In this one, all the neighborhood children collaborate on "this place, full of grace, in the snow"--an amazingly elaborate snow-plow-mountain fort.
What are you reading?