Editor's note: In her biweekly column, award-winning children's author Jerdine Nolen discusses fun things to do with books.
It is a good practice to allow children opportunities to make meaningful interpretations, connections and extensions with books. Although I don't recommend creating activities with every book you read, when it matters, find ways to extend the reading experience for personal enjoyment. Here are some examples:
* After reading "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein, bring a sizable but manageable tree branch into your home. Using plaster of Paris, secure it in an empty coffee can. Designate it as your family's giving tree. Decorate it to exchange notes, valentines, holiday greetings and the like.
* Enjoy a family meal of crab cakes after reading "Aunt Flossie's Hats and Crab Cakes Later" by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard.
* After reading "Amelia Bedelia" by Peggy Parish, have fun identifying and acting out the "mistakes" Amelia might make if she were a part of your family's life.
* Make the next trip to the barbershop more meaningful after reading "Uncle Jed's Barbershop" by Margaree King Mitchell.
* While reading "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown, make the book come alive. As each page is darkened to show the coming night, find a way to dim the lights as you read along with the story. Finally, when the book is closed, you can count, 1, hTC 2, 3 and "woooooo" - blow out the lights!
* Re-create recipes after reading books such as: "Stone Soup" by Marcia Brown, "Thundercake" by Patricia Polacco and the "Cranberry" books by Wende Dev-lin. Or help your children make Strega Nona's famous pasta after reading "Strega Nona" by Tomie de Paola.
* Riddles are fun. Children can base riddles on book characters with questions such as "Who am I?" "Who lived here?" or "What is it?" These can get children thinking and creating riddles - a great use of time on long car trips.
* After reading "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura Joffe Numeroff, draw pictures "only a mouse could draw." Display them on a wall or refrigerator.
* After reading books with bears in them, have a teddy bear picnic.
* Children love to act things out. Stage your own "Wild Rumpus" after reading "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak. Or act out "T'was the Night Before Christmas" by Clement Clarke Moore.
* Sing picture-book interpretations of well-known folk songs, finger plays, jump-rope songs: "London Bridge is Falling Down" by Peter Spier, "Meet Danitra Brown" by Nikki Grimes, "The Farmer in the Dell" by Diane Zuromskis and "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" by Nadine Wescott.
* After reading "Baby Bear's Bedtime Book" by Jane Yolen, create original bedtime stories with your children.
Pub Date: 12/27/98