As we reach the end of the school year, we can look back and reflect upon a full school year unlike any other. While the 2019-2020 school year suddenly stopped and changed in March, it impacted only the last quarter of the school year. The 2020-2021 school year was different for the entire year, from August through June. Many people, including families, students, and teachers, are looking forward to the summer to enjoy some activities and/or travel that have been limited over the last year. It is a welcome diversion from the intense situation that we have all experienced - in our work, school, or home.
This summer, why not try some family endeavors at home or on the road that start with a book and lead to a fun family activity? Research is clear that reading aloud to a child is one way to greatly improve their literacy skills. It builds reading skills, and improves vocabulary skills, among other things. So, why not read a book together, and do some fun activities with some learning benefits at the same time? Since gifted children tend to like to investigate things in a deeper manner, and to learn answers to the endless question of “why,”these books and activities are perfect to do together. This allows children to independently pursue some specific investigation of their interest from the book, and brings everyone back together to share their findings and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
In May we lost two beloved contributors to children’s literature. Eric Carle and Lois Ehlert passed away. Carle is the author of many, many children’s books including The Very Hungry Caterpillar. He was a prolific author and illustrator and introduced a new way to write and illustrate children’s literature. Carle’s stories taught values, and centered on learning themes such as colors, counting, shapes, opposites, rhythm, and rhyme, to name a few. There are many resources on the Internet about Carle’s works. Here are a few to explore:
Official Eric Carle Website
(Has booklists with books in several languages, activities, downloads, etc.)
Interview: Eric Carle Discusses 50 Years of The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Eric Carle Reads: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The second person important in children’s literature, and featured in this article, is Lois Ehlert, illustrator of the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Did you know that Ehlert was born in Beaver Dam, WI? While Chicka Chicka Boom Boom may be her most popular work, it is not her only work. Ehlert wrote other books, including some that teach skills such as colors and the alphabet in a garden setting.
Here are a few Internet resources that explore Ehlert’s work, with ideas for follow-up exploration and activities learned in the books.
Lois Ehlert Biography:
Video Interview with Lois Ehlert
Growing Vegetable Soup
Children’s Read Aloud Picture Book
Read by Mr. Chad
**Activity-Cook vegetable soup together
Pie in the Sky
Video Read Aloud
**Activity-Make a cherry pie with your family.
The recipe is part of the text of the book.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Video: Story Time at Awnie’s House
Alphabet-upper case and lower case.
**Activity-Keep the beat by snapping in rhythm to the story.
A few other books by Lois Ehlert:
Planting a Rainbow
Eating the Alphabet
Lots of Dots
In My World
I hope these books give you a place to start to enjoy these two authors/illustrators who are no longer with us, but whose works will remain favorites of children and parents everywhere.
Dr. Wanda Routier
Former WATG Board Member
Ask the Doctor