Sunday, April 3, 2011

Picture Books: Spring and Easter (Early Childhood)

In many picture books, especially for early childhood (ages birth-5), spring and Easter are intertwined.  There are numerous wonderful books on this subject.  I have chosen five of my favorites to share.  They celebrate spring by appreciating the beauty of new life—both in the plants and the animals.  Others celebrate the benefits of Easter—church, new clothes, baskets, and treats.  All of them are offer opportunities to talk about and to identify signs of the season and of the holiday. 

Painted Eggs and Chocolate Bunnies (ages birth-3) by Toni Trent Parker 
It’s springtime!  It’s Easter!  The children are celebrating this time of year.  Each spread has a merry, rhyming verse, such as:

Look at me.
I’m an Easter bunny!
With these rabbit ears,
I look sooo funny!

Corresponding with the verses are full-sized vibrant photographs of smiling boys and girls.   The children are shown dressed in their Sunday best, wearing silly rabbit ears, holding a chocolate bunny, grasping some yellow flowers, and showing off an Easter basket.   Youngsters will be thrilled with this colorful book and sweet poetic text.  Teaching Opportunities:  Rhyme, Easter, Imagination, Poetry

Kitten’s Spring (ages birth-3) by Eugenie Fernandes 
The vivid, multi-dimensional illustrations make Kitten’s Spring a must see!  There is so much to point out and discuss on each page like flowers, insects, colors, habitats, animals, and so forth.  The illustrations and text follow Kitten as she explores the farm and barnyard.  The minimal, rhyming text teaches animal sounds and baby names. 

Cow moos,
Calf winks.

Pig oinks,
Piglet drinks.

After a lively day of exploring, Kitten returns home to nap, where inside signs of springtime are illustrated with seeds and planting supplies lying about.  Teaching Opportunities:  Animals Baby, Animals Farm, Habitats, Spring, Rhyme

 Easter Babies (ages birth-5) by Joy N. Hulme 
Both the illustrations and text reveal the signs of spring that are evident everywhere on a farm!  From the newborn foal walking for the first time on wobbly legs to the ten ducklings paddling in the nearby stream, there are animal babies everywhere.  Other animals are brooding hens on their nests, playful kids jumping over a fence, bunnies playing under a tree,  nestlings screeching to be fed, cheeping chicks pecking up food, lambs frolicking in the grassy meadow, piglets wiggling in to find a place to eat, and nine kittens nuzzled together.  Next, it switches to a group of children on an Easter egg hunt in a park and Easter bells ringing in the churches around town.  The purpose of the bells is”to celebrate the signs that spring has brought new life to everything.”   The collage illustrations of digital art and oil paints are precious and inviting.  Teaching Opportunities:  Rhyme, Alliteration, Numerals, Counting, Animals Forest & Farm, Easter, Spring

Happy Easter, Biscuit! (ages 1-4) by Alyssa Satin Capucilli 
Biscuit and a little girl go on an Easter egg hunt together.  They look all around--in the garden, the backyard, the tall grass, and the little stream.  As the hunt comes to an end, the little girl realizes all the eggs are gone!  She finds them though…hiding in Biscuit’s dog house.  Every page has a flap for small fingers to interact with by opening and uncovering what is underneath like colorful eggs or other fun discoveries (bunny, kitten, mouse, squirrel).  Encourage toddler and preschool aged children to guess what is under each flap.  Then, give ample praise for their efforts.  Read it over and over again to allow lots of chances for success.  Teaching Opportunities:  Counting, Predicting, Easter, Animals

Looking for Easter (ages 2-7) by Dori Chaconas  
As Little Bunny comes out of his burrow, he smells something unfamiliar in the air.  His friend, Beaver, tells him it is Easter.  Little Bunny wants to know what Easter is.  Beaver tells her it is a basket.  He offers to make one for Little Bunny if he helps him gather branches for his lodge.   Happily, Little Bunny helps his friend and hops off.   He also assists Woodchuck and Mouse with their springtime activities, and each one adds something to Little Bunny’s understanding of Easter.  When Robin needs a nest, Little Bunny helps out by offering his basket full of fresh grass and berries.  After several days of rain, Little Bunny returns to the meadow where his friends show off their new families.  The most special of all is Robin who is raising her three offspring in Little Bunny’s basket.  Bunny asks, “Is this Easter?”  Wren tells her, “Easter is new life…Easter is all around us today!”  As Little Bunny looks around, he realizes he has finally found Easter.   Even though there is not a direct religious connection, Christian parents can relate it to the resurrection and the new life of a believer.  Teaching Opportunities:  Counting, Animal Babies, Helping Others, Easter, Spring

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