Amber Keck, Children’s Librarian
As summer changes into fall, there are lots of opportunities to introduce literacy concepts to your child. At Manhattan Public Library, we encourage parents and caregivers to embrace organic ways to instill a love of reading in children. One of the important factors in a child’s learning to read is their enjoyment of the books and stories. It is important to find stories that your children enjoy and look forward to reading with you. In the Children’s Room, there are numerous books on leaves, hibernating animals and other aspects of fall. Here are a few books that you can read with your children, followed by any or all of the described activities.
Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell
In Apples and Pumpkins, a little girl and her parents visit Comstock Farm, where they pick apples and pumpkins. Visit an apple orchard and a pumpkin patch with your children. Ask them questions about what they observe around them. What does the air feel like? How many people do they think are there picking apples or pumpkins? Are they feeling happy? When you get home, count how many apples were picked. Have your children join you in making a special treat with the apples or carving the pumpkin. Suggest that they call a friend or family member to tell them about the experience that they had.
Imitating activities from books gives deeper meaning to the story that your children are reading. Retelling stories and experiences builds the concept of “beginning, middle and end.”
Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
Leaf Man uses photos of leaves and other pieces of nature to tell the story of how leaves progress through the fall. Take a nature walk with your children and have them take notes in a homemade or store-bought journal. They can look for specific things or just simply observe the world around them. Gather leaves and sticks to bring home. Use the sticks to make letters on the sidewalk. Try to find bits of letters or shapes in the veins of the leaves. Make your own leaf man and exchange stories with your children about what your leaf man has done or will do.
As you observe nature, you will most likely use words that your children don’t yet know. When children are exposed to a larger vocabulary, they tend to have greater reading success. Don’t be afraid to use new words to describe the scenery around you. Making letters out of real objects gives more depth to the letters themselves and emphasizes the fact that they form words and have meaning.
The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri
The Busy Little Squirrel follows a squirrel as he prepares for hibernation, gathering seeds, nuts and fruit. Make your own “snack mix” with your children and try to form letters out of the pieces of food. Have them help you cook a meal and talk about what you like to eat in the winter. The more you talk with your children, the more they will learn about communication, words and stories.
Visit the Animals Neighborhood at the library to find non-fiction books on squirrels and other hibernating animals. Consider reading non-fiction stories about the changing of the seasons, found in the Science & Nature Neighborhood of the Children’s Room.
Attending a storytime at MPL is a great way to get your child engaged with stories in different formats. Storytellers coordinate activities during storytime that associate with the books being read. Visit the website to see the current storytime schedule, or stop by the Children’s Room to pick up a schedule. Youth Services librarians are always willing to offer ideas to help your child develop early literacy skills, even starting from birth.