A Child's WorldGrowing Every Day
Childhood is a growing time, filled with learning about self and others and the world. The books in this column celebrate children, honor family, and rejoice in the routines that are part of a typical day in a young child's life. Bath time and bedtime, play and exploration, the first day of school, and cuddling time at the end of a busy, busy daythese simple activities are repeated time and again in many houses, in every country, all around our world. So gather all the boys and girls you know, and share these stories. It's time to celebrate a child's world.
| ||In My Nest|
|by Sara Gillingham, illustrations by Lorena Simonovich (Chronicle Books, 2009, ISBN 0811865555)|
Snuggling, cuddling in his cozy nest, baby bird feels safe and loved. This bird family's house is very different from a child's home, but the sense of comfort is much the same. Baby bird looks around and notices curly twigs, soft feathers, and green leaves along with some brown mud to hold everything together. But the most important part of this nest is the family who lives there!
Babies and toddlers are sure to enjoy this sturdy board book with layered die-cut pages that give glimpses of the materials that provide a home for the bird family. A felt baby-bird finger puppet adds action and interest to this simple story.
| ||Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes|
|by Mem Fox, illustrations by Helen Oxenbury (Harcourt, 2009, ISBN 0152060572)|
What could be more endearing than babies, and who can resist touching their tiny little fingers and admiring their chubby little toes? This lovely picture book uses rhythm and rhyme to let the reader know that infants and toddlers from each part of our planet have those sweet toes and fingers, as well as the love of their family, in common. "There was one little baby who was born far away. / And another who was born on the very next day. / And both of these babies, / as everyone knows, / had ten little fingers / and ten little toes." Babies in this story are born in a town, in the hills, in a tent, and even on the ice. These vignettes are followed by the repetitive line, "And both of these babies, as everyone knows, had ten little fingers and ten little toes." The soft pencil-and-watercolor illustrations of toddlers from many cultures are cumulative, with each new baby appearing on the consecutive pages. The last child that the reader meets belongs to the narrator of the story, who adores her baby, gently touches her little fingers and toes, and plants three kisses on the end of her nose.
Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury have created many treasured books between them. Their teaming for this offering is joyous and memorable. This one will go in the basket of favorites to be enjoyed again and again.
| ||Wee Little Lamb|
|by Lauren Thompson, illustrations by John Butler (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Children, 2009, ISBN 1416934693)|
Wee Little Lamb is shy. Too shy to explore the farm meadow, too shy to talk to the brown rabbit, and too shy to leave his mother's side, he is missing out on the frolicking and fun part of being young on the farm. Cricket invites Lamb to come jump with all his friends, but he just hides behind his mama. Robin encourages him to sing a song, and the snowy owl asks him to come and see the world. Little Lamb, like many young children, is reluctant to stray too far . . . until he meets a tiny mouse. What happens next will bring a knowing smile to the reader's face. Sometimes, confidence comes in wee little steps. With stunning drawings of animals and large double-page spreads, this picture book is more than a wee bit delightful.
Families provide love and a feeling of belonging that are critical to babies and toddlers as they develop a sense of self. Each of the stories above reinforces the notion that home is the place where we put down roots and try out our wings.
- After reading the book In My Nest, have a conversation with toddlers about what might be in a "baby's nest." Find a cardboard box that is big enough to fit a toddler and low enough that the child can crawl into the space. Fill the nest with baby trappingssome blankets, a teddy bear, and a sturdy board book. Instead of worms, your baby bird might have a baggie filled with animal crackers. Cozy!
- Continue the idea by creating a baby nest on a bulletin board. Cover the background in blue paper, and then use black paper to cut the silhouette of a large branch coming out from the side of the board into the center of the display. Tear long strips of yellow and brown paper, and staple or glue them into a large nest shape on the branch. Add some yarn and straw, some glittering string, and other elements you might see in a nest a bird might build. Take pictures of the children in the class, and place the photos in the nest.
Books selected and reviewed by Carol Price
. Carol Price has been a preschool teacher and director, a kindergarten and first grade teacher, an elementary principal, and a K-12 English language arts coordinator. Recently retired after working thirty years for Worthington Schools in Worthington, Ohio, she now spends her time as an educational consultant, workshop presenter, and adjunct professor at a local college. More importantly, she finally has hours and hours available to read newly released children's books and to curl up with a few of her old favorites, too.
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