Local library is a great source of picture books for kids

April 02, 2004|by LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

We were settled on opposite ends of the couch.

I with cookbook, grocery list, coupons and pen.

A picture book covered her lap.

I had told her that Mommy needed to get ready for our trip to the store and that she could sit with me and look at her own book.

It wasn't an unreasonable request. I knew she would be able to handle it. We had played a game or two earlier, so we had a healthy dose of together time.

Still, concentration was difficult.

For me, at least.

While adding items to my list, I attempted to suppress the guilt I felt for not reading to her at that moment.


A quick glance revealed that my feelings were unfounded. She appeared quite content.

Beautiful illustrations seemed larger than life, and she was in no hurry to turn the page.

The story was about a little girl who is "in charge" of twilight.

As she and her mother are on a late afternoon outing, she announces to passers-by that the day is about to end.

"I'm in charge of the twilight here and there and everywhere. Now I must go to the faraway places to check on the time that comes before dark."

The book then takes on a surreal quality.

The little girl flies to the top of skyscrapers - or skyscratchers, as my daughter once called them. She goes up to the stars and helps them get ready to shine.

She reads a bedtime story to the sun, tells coyotes to keep quiet just a little while longer and scolds an owl for opening an eye.

After a flight with pelicans, she finds the moon hiding behind the ocean and persuades it to rise.

On the way back down to earth, she turns on a light for a man straining to read his newspaper and arrives back on the sidewalk in time to see the city lights "sparkle all at once like a thousand dressed-up stars."

Apart from a few simple questions on how the girl could fly and why she was standing on the top of a tall building with a book in her hand, my daughter looked at the book in silence.

It was a good reminder that preschoolers need independent time with books, to just enjoy the pictures and to feel the flow of a story.

This picture book, "Twilight," was written by Holly Young Huth, with wonderful illustrations by David McPhail. It is available at Washington County Free Library ... as soon as I return it.

My family also has enjoyed Alexandra Day's picture book series about a dog named Carl. "Carl's Birthday" was especially popular at our house. If you're planning a birthday party any time soon, your whole family may get a kick out of this book. It's also available at the county library.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about helping children learn the multiplication tables.

Linda Heinrich, an elementary math/science resource teacher for Washington County Public Schools recently sent a suggestion via e-mail:

"Another good idea is to make arrays. For example: Make four rows of three. Use buttons, pennies, beans, stickers, etc. This develops an understanding of what it means to multiply and that multiplication is repeated addition. Learning the facts becomes easy as the understanding develops."

We make arrays from toy soldiers, beanie babies, marbles and just about every other toy we have in multiples. The best part is that children don't realize they're learning through play.

(Don't spill the beans, OK?)

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