Adios! Au Revoir! Ciao! Bon voyage! Goodbye! Arrivederci!
If you’ve read my column in the past, it’s no surprise that I’m not sad to say ‘goodbye’ to winter. I take no shame in admitting that I count down the days until spring — every year! I’m not a fan of the cold weather because I’d much rather have grass between my toes than icicles on my nose! When the days get longer, and the weather gets warmer, and after spending a lot of time hibernating indoors, many of us can’t wait to get outside without the layers of thick clothes. One question that I’ve been asked countless times during my years of writing this column is: “How can get my child to read more during the excitement of spring and outdoor playtime?”
It’s not impossible to incorporate books into playtime — at any age. Once the bitter cold has faded, many kids would prefer to ride a bike or visit a playground instead of opening a book. There’s that contained energy accumulated during the winter that’s just waiting to burst! Playtime or reading a book doesn’t have to be a choice — just combine them! Here are a few suggestions to keep those pages turning and the energy burning:
Grab a book and plant a seed! Gardening is a wonderful way to get the whole family involved in outdoor projects. Libraries and bookstores have several books for all ages that will inspire ideas and provide how-to information.
Adventure awaits! Visit nature reserves, forests, or your own backyard to begin a feather-finding, tree naming tour. There are trees and species of birds to identify and books that will easily assist with the mystery.
Read on the fly! If it’s a windy day, select books with a kite theme or one that has designs to build kites or other flying objects.
Feed the mind and the belly! Get busy in the kitchen with cookbooks. Make it a family event and get everyone reading and stirring!
A day at the beach can be an adventure, select titles that will connect with ocean life and beachcombing.
There are endless opportunities to combine books with activities. I have been obsessed with all the little free libraries popping up around towns and cities. My grandsons and I love finding them and then going to investigate the books inside.
There are so many well-crafted designs to admire and books inside them for all ages. There is even a website that lists the libraries littlefreelibrary.org and an app you can download to your phone that maps their locations! Some of the little free libraries are next to parks and trails, which will allow for a perfect mix of playtime and books!
I’ve included a few favorite books that my grandsons have enjoyed from the little free libraries we have visited. Until next month, may your days be filled with countless page-turning adventures!
Tabatha Jean D'Agata
"Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes"
Written by Jonathan Auxier
• Ages 10 and up
• 400 pages
A humbling, yet edgy, tale of a blind 10-year-old orphan named Peter who has learned to be a clever thief. When he steals a magical box that contains three pairs of eyes, he embarks on an adventure of challenge and discovery. Wonderfully written and captivating — a timeless story that will have readers hooked!
"No Sleep for the Sheep!"
Written by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by Jackie Urbanovie
• Ages 4 to 8
• 32 pages
Sheep’s sleep is repeatedly interrupted when the farm animals, one by one, come knocking on the barn door. A rhythmical story decorated with picturesque illustrations.
"The Napping House"
By Audrey Wood and Don Wood
• Ages: Preschool and up
Welcome to the napping house where everyone is sleeping — until a little flea starts a wakeful reaction! Written in rhyme, this is a fun read-aloud or bedtime book with inviting colors and humorous illustrations.
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