We often get requests for books that help teach children about proper rules of behavior – everything from sharing to telling the truth. While we frequently turn to our nonfiction collection for titles designed to teach children about specific subjects or topics, often picture books more powerfully portray the importance of doing the right thing.
The use of humor is one reason the messages in picture books can have a greater impact with children. And you can’t get much funnier with preschoolers (or even the K-2 crowd) than the word underpants – not to mention the word poo. (Please, don’t mention it!) The picturebook Brief Thief by Michael Escoffier uses both words in a span of a few pages while reminding readers that it’s not right to take things that don’t belong to you.
You see, poor Leon the Lizard finds himself without a necessary item after relieving himself. He notices an old pair of underpants hanging from a nearby tree branch and uses them to “finish his business.” As he discards the underpants behind a bush, a voice calls to him. It claims to be Leon’s conscience: “The little voice you hear inside your head whenever you get up to something naughty.” The voice continues: “… Since when are we allowed to touch other people’s things? What do they teach you in school, anyway?”
Leon never learns the real identity of his conscience, but readers will be amused to learn that the voice belongs to a rabbit who had been using the underpants to complete his superhero costume. We don’t learn his superhero name, but I’m guessing that it’s Superego.
Summertime is a wonderful opportunity for children and parents to build special memories and discover hours of simple fun. Kids can create a masterpiece painting with milk-based paint or use a mixture of shaving cream and glue to make a puff paint mural. (Recipe below) Write secret codes to one another with invisible ink and then hide them around the house or in the yard. Combine imagination, pasta plus glue and you can design a “Pasta Creation” with different shapes of pasta, or go for a nature walk and build a picture from whatever treasures you collect. Abundant ideas can be found in the many books we have here at The Monroe County Public Library Children’s Department. A few titles you might consider are:
Glues, Brews, and Goos
Vols. 1 & 2
By Diana F. Mark
Making Art with Sand and Earth
By Gillian Chapman and Pam Robson
Kids’ Crazy Art Concoctions
By Jill Frankel Hauser
Here’s a simple recipe for Puffy Paint!
Mix equal parts white glue and foamy shaving cream – color with some food coloring.
Paint an original work of art and then let it dry – paint will puff up!
Our Tuesday morning art program begins again June 25th at 10:45 am!
Like any skill, reading takes practice. For young children, “practice” can sound like a chore. Sometimes reading is more fun when friends and family join in. Book clubs provide an opportunity to read and discuss books socially, even helping children make the connection between reading and “real life.” What’s more, learning to read requires lots of skills that do not involve decoding words on a page. Drawing, writing, storytelling, rhyming, word play, and meaningful discussion, all play a part in a child’s comprehension of text. Our Beginning Reader Book Club includes all of these activities, along with the opportunity for adults and children to read together. Some of our featured books include: Q is for Duck: An Alphabet Guessing Game, Penny and her Song, and Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping.
Our Beginning Reader Book Club meets for three Thursdays (June 13, June 20, & June 27) from 1-1:45pm in the Children’s Program Room. Please register by phone (349-3100) or through our website (mcpl.info/childrens). Hope to see you there!
About this time of year, my colleagues and I begin to ponder just why it was we chose careers that see us at our busiest in the summer months -- at a time when it seems the rest of the world is looking to kick back and relax. Read more about Summer Reading - Why it Matters
While some predict the imminent demise of the printed book, some profess that the printed book will continue on in perpetuity. I stand with the second group. As much as I enjoy the convenience of ebooks, there is a majesty to a beautifully illustrated and bound printed book that not even the most colorfully animated ebooks can equal. There is so much ephemeral electronic correspondence today that a printed book, by its sheer mass and substance commands a certain amount of respect. Or, perhaps it's simply the history of the printed book that I revere.
From the Good Mountain: How Gutenberg Changed the Worldlavishly presents the early history of the printed book as pioneered by Johannes Gutenberg in 1450. Categorized as a biography, this new picturebook by James Rumford focuses more on Gutenberg's revolutionary invention of the printing press, than on the life of Gutenberg himself. Each richly illustrated double-page spread describes the process of creating a book as a mystery of sorts, asking the reader to guess the elements that formed the finished product: "What was this thing made of rags and bones?" and answering on the next page: "It was paper, and it was ready."
The epilogue to this book notes that Gutenberg's invention remains a bit of a mystery, as no one knows for sure how he was able to produce such beautifully crisp and clear letters in the 1400s. But some of the books he produced more than 500 years ago endure to this day. In fact a copy of one of those books resides in Bloomington at the Lily Library on the campus of Indiana University. The Gutenberg Bible rests in a glass case on display in the Lily Library, open for anyone to visit.
From the Good Mountainconcludes with an illustration of computer circuitry, suggesting that as hand copied books gave way to printed ones, and printed books give way to ebooks, perhaps it doesn't matter at all what books look like -- what form they take -- as long as people keep writing and reading them. What are you reading today?