What in the World is Going On?
Would you like to Doodle with Mo Willems? Hear a professional reading of Roald Dahl's, The Twits, or just cuddle up with your kids (or parents) and have a story read to you by professional actors? This is the upside of the downside of a pandemic: Professionals reaching out to us to fill the gaps and make a difficult time more bearable. Here are some things I hope will never change!
As a promoter of classic children's literature, I appreciate websites like Americanliterature.com where stories in the public domain are made available to you in the earliest versions. You can enjoy the original illustrations, train your ear to an earlier, if not somewhat antiquated English usage, and see how words change meaning or fall into disuse altogether. One caveat: the behavior and themes of older fairytales might not be acceptable to contemporary sensibilities, but even that can be fun to compare and contrast. This is such a cornucopia of great stories that will overwhelm, so let me leave you with the trove of Christmas stories to enjoy over the winter break.
The pandemic has shoved so many news-worthy items from our view. I regret to report that Newbery winner, Tomie dePaola passed away in March. This prolific author knew at the age of four that he would devote his art to children, and we now have his wonderful books to cherish for all time.
Christopher Paul Curtis celebrates the 25th anniversary of The Watsons go to Birmingham--1963. It might not have been the best time to take a road trip to Grandma's, but it certainly was educational. Ranging from hilarious to the horrific in plot, it will start a conversation about the Civil Rights Movement. Read Curtis's interview with Wendy Lamb.
No surprise, books for little ones about germs and viruses are hitting the market now. While I would caution against overwhelming children with scary facts, we can sensibly teach them how illnesses work, how we cope with them, and most importantly, how we can do our best to prevent them. It is strongly suggested that you always read a book first before you share it. Here is an online option for easy access: Coronavirus: A Book for Children, Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson, Nia Roberts
The Charles & Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare is one way you can introduce children to the bard's plays without sacrificing language and content. Consider it as a read-to, but remember children have a fluid ability to absorb and navigate language - no need to protect them from the Elizabethan English. A strong reader may want to read it on his or her own.
Help for that book report you will have to write when you start school in September: Goodreads is very helpful when choosing books to read. You can click on the book and read the description to see if sounds like something you will enjoy.
Are you wondering why some children seem disinterested in books? Sometimes we focus too much on character building and not enough on the pleasure of a story well told. We can unknowingly put kids off by turning reading time into a lecture on behavior. The plot's the thing! If we can teach children that books have wonderful and engaging plots to be discovered, reading becomes less of a chore and more of a pleasure. Regan McMahon offers some tips on how to raise a reader in her current blog from Common Sense Media.