This month's theme for AYOPS is Winter and Hibernation. It was a blast picking out books from the library and we definitely have a few favorites. Here are the books we've checked out from the library (and one we already owned) and read so far:
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First, I'll share the general winter books with you.
DC's favorite book by far was a board book called Ride the Big Machines in Winter by Carmen Mok. A little boy pretends to drive all the different machines people use in winter, from snow plows to zambonis. One of my favorite parts of the book is that each illustration shows the boy imagining himself in the machines, while you see him again in the background as a real little boy playing and pretending.
I was probably the one that enjoyed Winter Days in the Big Woods the most, but I love these picture book adaptations that take certain aspects of the Little House series and make them accessible for younger listeners. I hope my kids fall in love with Mary, Laura, Pa, and Ma before we ever read the original books out loud.
Gail Gibbons is my favorite author of children's nonfiction. She has a concise but accurate writing style that is accessible for younger kids, while captions, insets, and other additional text add details that can be read on subsequent readings or explored independently for kids who know how to read. In It's Snowing! AW particularly enjoyed the drawings of different shapes of ice crystals and how they come together to form snowflakes. The book covers the formation of snow, different types of snowfall events, and the pros and cons of snow.
Winter: An Alphabet Acrostic by Steve Schnur has a different acrostic poem on each page with charming linoleum cut illustrations by Leslie Evans. I do think this book would be appreciated more by kids who are old enough to read the word spelled out in the acrostic, but I enjoyed the poems on their own.
AYOPS hibernation theme included several hibernation activities including sorting cards with animal pictures into animals that hibernate and animals that don't hibernate. Bears, of course, are the most famous of the hibernating animals (although I learned that bears don't truly hibernate, they just sleep a lot in the winter). I wanted to make sure that we checked out books that talked about more than just bears, but bear hibernation stories are definitely the easiest to find.
DC's favorite hibernation book was Sleepy Bear by Lydia Dabcovich. It's a good book to read aloud to toddlers or for early readers, because the text is so simple. It's nothing fancy, but follows a bear as he falls asleep for the winter, sleeps through the snow, and wakes up feeling annoyed by bugs...until he remembers that bees make honey!
David Ezra Stein's Leaves is the only book on this list that we own. It came in our November Ivy Box subscription, and quickly became a bedtime favorite for DC. The bear is disconcerted by the falling leaves, at first attempting to put them back on the trees. DC's favorite line is "winter came." In the spring, the bear wakes up and sees the new leaves welcoming him back.
In December, we read Karma Wilson's Bear Stays Up for Christmas, but in Bear Snores On, Bear sleeps through the growing celebration happening in his cave. This was on the AYOPS reading list for January, with some recommended activities that we did after reading other bear hibernation books. More on that in another blog post about the month's activities. (Note: several of the guests in bear's cave are also animals that hibernate).
Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead is the last of the books that focuses solely on bear hibernation. Like I said, it's easy to focus on bears. This is a sweet story of a bear helping his friends before falling asleep for the winter. When spring comes, will he remember the story he wanted to tell in the fall?
Ever since reading Jan Brett's The Hat, my kids, especially DC, have had a fondness for hedgehogs. In Paul Stewart's A Little Bit of Winter, a hedgehog asks his forgetful best friend, Rabbit, to save a bit of winter. It definitely helped AW remember that hedgehogs hibernate when we were doing our animal sort.
A girl and her father cross country ski through a snow covered forest in Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner. The father tells his daughter about the hidden kingdom buried beneath the snow and under the dirt, and points out the signs of the animals still awake and roaming through the woods.
Of all the hibernation books, I think Jane Yolen's Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep is my favorite. That's not a surprise--I'm a huge fan of Jane Yolen. She's a wonderful poet, and that poetry really enriches her books. Each two page spread features an illustration of an anthropomorphized hibernating animal and a six line poem in the same rhyme scheme and word pattern. One of the things that I like about Yolen's poetry is that she uses rich vocabulary instead of over simplifying for children. I'm thinking about adding this book to our permanent collection.
One more hibernation book! Like Sleep, Black Bear Sleep, Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming covers more than just bears, despite the illustration on the cover. Bear realizes it's time to hibernate, but first must tell Snail. Snail is ready to listen, but first has to tell Skunk that winter is on the way. And so it goes.
We have more winter books in our To Be Read pile, and hopefully I'll get around to adding those as we read them! We have a couple in our personal collection as well.