We’ve been starting off our book times with a little apple rhyme. Fingerplays are brilliant because they engage everyone from itty bitty babies who love to watch your hands move and listen to the rhyme and cadence of your voice, to toddlers who can begin to imitate and thus engage in the drama of the moment, to preschoolers and kindergarteners, who have a hang of the rhyme and rhythm of the whole thing and enjoy presenting it in its entirety as experts.
Here is the tree with leaves so green.
Make tree with arm.
Here are the apples that hang in between.
When the wind blows
Make arms wave like the wind
The apples will fall,
Make fists fall.
And here is the basket to gather them all.
Put arms together like a basket.
I will note that it’s becoming more and more difficult to find suitable, high-quality children’s picture books, and I don’t think my standards are really that high. I try to avoid characters or anything that might be trying to sell my children something or hook them on to a television show or computer game. I don’t like pictures to be too cartoonish or garish, and I do like my books to show non-stereotypical diversity and acceptance of other people and cultures without embracing a “tourist” view of multiculturalism. Nothing too frightening or grown up– I want them to come out the reading experience feeling empowered and not scared– and nothing that seems to be trying too hard to teach them a lesson or educate them, because I think children are smart and realize when we’re trying to “trick” them into learning. That’s not to say we don’t enjoy non-fiction books as well. We’re just intentional about our non-fiction being non-fiction, and not a story in sheep’s (or teacher’s) clothing.
That explanation said and done, here are some of the books we’ve been reading this week. (And please note, these are affiliate links).
The World’s Birthday: A Rosh Hashanah Story by Barbara Diamond Goldin with illustrations by Jeanette Winter. It’s a sweet little story about a sweet little boy who wants to have a birthday party for the whole world.
Autumn by Gerda Muller. We’ve had this board book from Floris Books since Michael was a baby, and it’s still as enjoyable as ever. While some people might believe that kindergarten are too old to enjoy a board book, I find that this wordless book with its many hidden surprises and treasures throughout not only gives the twins (and even the fourth grader!) a chance to tell their own stories, it also encourages them by introducing them to fun autumn activities which they can then initiate on their own.
Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. Another oldie but goodie! (I believe those are called classics!) The twins love both the “I Spy” aspect of this book and completing the rhymes, so not only is this book fun and promoting cultural literacy through fairy tales and nursery rhymes, but it also helps them develop their observation and language skills.
The Apple Cake by Nienke van Hichtum, illustrated by Marjan van Zeyl. This sweet little story is begging to be turned into a puppet play or a prop basket or, at the very least, an afternoon snack, but I’m not sure that we’ll get around to it. It might stick around in the basket for another week just so we can do that. Another sweet and lovely story. If you’re looking for the educational nugget in this one– I said I don’t choose books that hit children over the heads with morals, facts, and other educational content, but I didn’t say those things weren’t subtly tucked away in the story nonetheless– it’s a fun memory game to see if the children can remember the sequence of events leading from plum to apple cake. And if we do bake an apple cake, I’ll be sure to let you know!
And finally, I have two more hiding somewhere on my shelves that I need to dig out. Apple Picking Time by Michele Slawson has a sweet story of hard work, initiative, and community, and beautiful illustrations–pastels with a watercolor wash– but the book is disappointingly white and shows a lack of diversity. All of these books are, come to think of it. And How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman has lived in our home since our early homeschool days. This literary trip around the world does introduce some diverse cultures and ends with a very easy apple pie recipe.
Do you have any favorite books about apples or autumn? I would love to hear about them, especially if they address the “lack of diversity” issue we are having this week.