Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summer Library Gems for Kiddos

When my three kiddos and I head to the children's section of our local library, it is not a "let's browse in a leisurely fashion" situation.  We've got to check on the frogs, love on the life-sized stuffed animals (as I cringe and think of school-wide head lice warning letters), head to the far corner to examine chapter books, sneak off to the playroom, stack up ten DVDs for mom's consideration, poke the aquarium glass, visit the drinking fountain, settle in at the puzzle table, whine to be allowed to use the computers, etc.  With three kids in three different directions, I open my bag and choose books as if I am on Super Market Sweep.  I scan titles on the "new" shelf, choose adventures from among old favorites like Franklin and Little Critter, and toss every third book displayed on top of the shelves into our bag.  Half the fun is figuring out what we have when we arrive home.

It's hard to lose when choosing picture books (unless your child sneaks a Disney Look and Find into the bag), but earlier this summer, we really won with two of our haphazard picks.

In Yes, Let's by Galen Goodwin Longstreth and Maris Wicks, a family has a perfectly imperfect summer day of road tripping, hiking, creeking, picnicking, stopping for burgers and milkshakes on the way home, and unloading sleepy kids from the station wagon at dark.  The book captures the beauty of those long, happy, free form summer days spent with those we love the most.  The summer days that can still warm your heart in January and whose promise keeps you going in that long stretch between spring break and the last day of school.  Great illustrations--fun and full of humor--and text that is a pleasure to read aloud.  My kids and I were equally enchanted.

Our other summer gem was Brothers at Bat:  The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team, written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Steven Salerno.  It's all in the title -- a true story of a baseball team made up entirely of brothers.  My boys and I just loved it.  When I raved about it to a friend with two baseball-loving little guys (3 and 5 years old and already memorizing stats for MLB players), she revealed that Brothers at Bat is her husband's choice every time he's in charge of bedtime stories.  My kids are especially intrigued by stories that "really happened" and gleefully summarized this book for their dad.  The gorgeous, old-fashioned illustrations in this book made me nostalgic for childhood (or nostalgic for a childhood I never had since I grew up in the 70s and 80s instead of the 30s and 40s).  If I were doing a baseball-themed boys' bedroom, I would buy several copies and frame and mat the illustrations (keeping at least one for reading and rereading, of course).  Pardon the pun, but Brothers at Bat hits it out of the park.

Any summer gems for kids in your library bag?