Monday, June 26, 2017

Summertime Reading – Picture Books

A more accurate description for today’s blog could have been, Summertime Themed Picture Books.

I can’t really get my head around giving a list of picture books for keeping up reading skills over the summer. Somehow it’s just not the same as working out a list of fiction and nonfiction or graphic novels for older kids in the higher grades.

Thus, today’s posting lists some great titles that will perhaps engage interest because they’re about summer and summertime fun, activities and communing with nature.

 Among a Thousand Fireflies by Helen Frost 
I love the cover of this book. It’s so evocative of summer sitting out in the evening cooling off after a hot day. This free-verse poem will make for a great read-aloud while providing an opportunity to learn about fireflies and why they glow. The photos are stunning.

The Specific Ocean by Kyo Maclear and Katty Maurey
Going away for a vacation is usually considered a treat but for one little girl she’s not convinced. By day three, however the magic of the ocean shore and time spent exploring and playing wins her over. I love that everything feels slowed down; there are no phones, TVs, computers or other bits of technology.

Swimming, Swimming by Gary Clement
This is the quintessential summer activity for me – going to the swimming pool on a hot day, hanging out with friends, and the smell of chlorine lingering for hours. In this nearly wordless picture book, summer is all about swimming for this group of young people.

Ice Cream Summer by Peter Sis 
Another essential ingredient of summer is ice cream and for the young boy in this story it really is THE most important thing as he describes in the letters he writes to his grandfather. His fascination with ice cream motivates him to learn everything about it.

Wild Berries by Julie Flett
Summer time, for me is about being outside in the garden or even better, outside the city and into the mountains. In this story, a boy and his grandmother go berry picking which becomes an opportunity to see creatures big and small going about their everyday business. There's nothing like a fresh picked wild berry exploding with flavour in your mouth.

The Raft by Jim LaMarche
Many summertime stories often have unhappy protagonists who have been 'shipped' off to some relative's place for the duration, which is the case for Nicky. But as is wont to happen in these stories, Nicky is won over to his Grandmother's way of life living at her cabin located next to a gently flowing river. The illustrations fit perfectly with the story, creating a sense of pause in this busy world and allowing time for appreciating nature.

Going to camp is also part of summer for some kids and the two boys in this picture book have a blast going to a day camp. There's lots of humour here as the narration often tells one thing and the illustrations another. The boys are staying with a set of grandparents who spoil them and also have to cope with typical rambunctious young child behaviour. 

This story is based on a family tradition that grew into an annual community event. In the 1950s, a family of Chinese immigrants living in Chicago discovered soybeans growing in a farmer's field. Happy with this discovery, Auntie Yang cooks up a pot of beans for her family. The next year, she invites other Chinese families in the area to join them. And, so the event grew larger for over 40 years.

Pictures From Our Vacation by Lynn Rae Perkins
This one is pretty realistic if you ask me. It's about the way we create memories and how we remember things. This family is returning to a family farm which is no longer lived in which involves a road trip. It's long and sometimes boring. The farm seems run down but Dad sees "happy memories everywhere he looked." However, after endless rainy days, sudden storms, navigating the changes to the local area new good memories are made when relatives congregate for a memorial service.  

Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse and Jon Muth
Do you remember days that seemed sooo stinking hot that eggs might fry on the sidewalk? Well, in this story it's just such a day. I especially love the illustrations that capture the heat of the city, the heaviness of impending rain and the lift that comes to people, both in movement and spirit, when the oppressiveness is released.


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