8 great kids' books to read in June 2016
June 08. World Ocean Day
The ocean is an amazing thing for both children and adults: its mysterious beauty, its apparant infinity and its great biodiversity are sure to interest and lead to many curious questions. It is also a very fragile natural environment which needs to be protected. World Ocean Day is thus a good occasion to talk about it with your child: you can answer all their questions thanks to the "First Encyclopedia of Seas and Oceans", and “This is The Sea That Feeds Us” will help you talk about the importance of preserving the ocean, while being full of information about the marine food chain.
"First Encyclopedia of Seas and Oceans" was written by Ben Denne. It is full of beautiful color photographs to show your child what the ocean and marine life really looks like, and of complete factual information to answer whathever question your child might have about sea life or just to learn new cool facts together. The book also includes an Internet version with other documents if your kid feels like exploring further.
“This is The Sea That Feeds Us”, written by reporter Robert F. Baldwin, will show your child the way the marine food chain works, through Don Dven’s lovely soft illustrations, and catchy rhythmic text that one could call poetry without shame. It also features informative tidbits. Through this scientific exploration, this book seeks to raise consciousness of the need to protect this complex, fascinating, fragile ecosystem, because human beings rely on it just as much as marine life.
June 12-21, 2016, Father's Day.
Father's Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Many countries celebrate it on the third Sunday of June, though it is also celebrated widely on other days by many other countries. On Father's Day, I suggest you read 2 books which will be nice for kids of different ages.
The first one is from the bright, inimitable Eric Carle. His artwork is created in collage technique, using hand-painted papers, which he cuts and layers to form colorful images. I know that the book has been criticized a lot, but children are clearly delighted with this book about the dads who take care of their babies. This is the story about Mr. Seahorse and many other fathers, who have their own distinct way of caring for their born and unborn youngs. We meet Mr. Stickleback and Mr. Tilapia, Mr. Kurtus, Mr. Pipe, and Mr. Bullhead.
Most kids see their mothers much more than their dads. This book is a cool chance to tell kids that daddy loves them and cares just as much as mom! The best thing you can do is give this book to the kid’s dad for bedtime reading. You will see what happens with dad after reading (for them it is also nice to know that they are good fathers). It should be noted that the remarkable illustrations of the book immediately causes, in 9 children out of 10, the urge to be creative: quickly grab paint and paper, and encourage them to represent something about fathers and fish.
The text very subtly and humorously reminds the reader of the rhythmic movement in seawater. Children like to play with the transparent paper, and discover the hidden heroes of the dialogue. I think that "Mister Seahorse" is suitable not only for toddlers, but also for older children. I remember how my eldest son started to check in the encyclopedia immediately after reading whether or not there really are dads among animals which completely take care of the offspring.
The other auther is Sven Nordqvist, a Swedish children's books writer and illustrator. And we offer to read his famous series about Petson, the old farmer, and Findus, his clever kitten. The books in the series can be read in any order. “When Findus Was Little and Disappeared” talks about how the kitten first appeared in Petson’s house.
We began to read the stories of Petson and Findus for the first time four years ago. In Thailand, where we lived at that time, we couldn’t find them and we had to order the books through friends. But all these attempts to find the books were rewarded. The graphics have an inimitable style, with highly detailed illustrations that the children examined for hours, coming up with their own stories. Through this series, Sven Nordqvist became famous, first at home and later in Europe. Movies and cartoons have been created as well as a computer game about the adventures of Findus and Petson.
Farmer Petson took into his house the kitten, who is very clever, fun and playful, like all kids =). Findus painted Petson’s formerly boring life with new colors. The books very subtly convey the relationship between child and father. Yes, this is not a standard family. There is no mother in the story. And Findus is not a child but a kitten. But I think that these books describe the great emotions men feel in their relationship with their children. Sometimes Petson is angry and does not want to think about the needs of Findus, sometimes he is too busy with his own affairs and thoughts. It’s not a secret that fathers (and mothers too!) often behave that way. But look in what bold, inventive and fun ways all the problems are solved in these stories. Such tomfoolery is possible only with dads!
June 16. International Day of the African Child
The International Day of the African Child takes place on June 16, 2016. The Day of the African Child has been celebrated every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity. It honors those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day. It also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children.
This tale about Anansi is one of the best West African folktales that I remember from my childhood. The way the author, McDermott has transferred beliefs of the Ashanti people into drawings and text is above all praise. Winner of a Caldecott Medal, Anansi tell about the trickster and folk hero, Kwaku Anansi, a spider with six sons even wiser than he is: See Trouble, Road Builder, River Drinker, Game Skinner, Stone Thrower and Cushion, and how they each use their unique skills to rescue their father from a series of unfortunate events. The colorful, geometric illustrations draws visually from Ashanti design motifs, and from the rich symbols of their folklore: the Sun, the Moon, the Creation, the Universe, and, Anansi, the Spider.
June 18. Go Fishing Day in US
Fishing Day is nonofficial American holiday. As the beginning of summer approaches, so does the best time to go fishing! This peaceful activity will be sure to bound your family together, and you may even bring back dinner. Go Fishing Day is a nice chance to get up early, as it increases the chance of catching fish, and go to a lake or river. Even if you don’t catch anything, it’s a nice way to spend a whole day outside with your family or with friends, and it won’t be boring. And here is a nice, child-friendly book with great illustrations to teach kids - and their parents - some basic fishing skills! Don’t forget to take it along with you!
The book, written by Timothy R. Smith and Mark Herrick, with fun, colorful illustrations by the latter, is part of the series of “Buck Wilder’s Guides” children’s book, in which the funny character teaches kids all sort of skills to do with nature and outdoors activities (camping, hiking, boating…) In this one, “Buck Wilder’s Small Fry Fishing Guide”, he will show your children how to recognize different types of fish they can catch, but also how to cast a line, how to rig it, what kind of bait to use… Everything they might need to get started!
June 19. “Juhannus”. Midsummer in Finland
Midsummer is an important national holiday in Finland. In many cultures, solar festivals (spring and fall equinoxes, winter and summer solstices) were crucial in ancient times. On these special astronomical dates, they celebrated the worship of the gods, performed religious rituals and had holiday traditions. Echoes of these beliefs are still keenly felt in many countries and Finland is no exception.
Before 1316 the summer solstice (the longest day of the year) in Finland was called Ukon juhla ("Ukko's celebration") after the Finnish god Ukko. In Karelian tradition, many bonfires were burned side by side, the biggest of which was called Ukko-kokko (the "Old Man Bonfire"; the prefix ukko- is used in Finnish to denote notable or particularly large objects or entities). Ukko is the god of the sky, weather, harvest and thunder in Finnish mythology. After the celebrations were Christianized, the holiday became known as juhannus after John the Baptist.
This day is the best of the year to explore with your kids Finnish and Karelian myths. "The Kalevala" is a book which puts together many of these myths. Every Finnish kid knows stories from the Kalevala and studies the epic in school. Children, streets, towns, and companies are named after Kalevala characters, and Finnish art, music, dance, and theater frequently draw on Kalevala themes. Tolkien used numerous plot elements from "The Kalevala" in his own novels.
But not many people from other countries know about these amazing myths. "The Kalevala" features, for instance, myths about the adventures of old Vainämoinen, who could do magic by singing, Joukahainen, an evil youth, Lemminkäinen, a handsome, carefree and romantic young hero, IImarinen, a skillful blacksmith , and Louhi, an old wicked sly woman. I used to think the names of the main characters as well as the text of the epic would be difficult for kids:=). I changed my mind when I began reading the adult version of the Kalevala, a long poem, to my boys (7 and 10 yo), who love Legos and math. We spent one month reading the book, everyday, and not a single day passed without the kids asking to read "The Kalevala". My kids were completely fascinated by these poems about heroic quests and battles for love, revenge, truth and the mysterious Sampo, the ultimate source of prosperity. Therefore, I highly recommend reading this lovely illustrated version of Kalevala to kids who aren't up for the full one.
The classic Finnish epic was originally compiled by Elias Lönnrot in the 19th century from ancient oral poetry. Since then, "The Kalevala" has been translated into over 45 languages. This gorgeously illustrated English translation is written in prose by Kirsti Mäkinen, and translated into English by Kaarina Brooks. The beautiful and vivid illustrations were drawn by Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin. This is a wonderful tale full of magic and information about ancient Finnish culture. The stories often have surprising turns, and the imagery is vivid. Lots of observations about human nature are woven into the tale.
June 21, 2016. The International Day of Yoga
The United Nations General Assembly declared June 21st as the International Day of Yoga in 2014. Yogi and mystic, Sadhguru notes the importance of this day in the yogic tradition: “On the day of the summer solstice, Adiyogi (the first yogi) turned south and first set his eyes on the Saptarishis or Seven Sages, who were his first disciples to carry the science of yoga to many parts of the world. It is wonderful that June 21 marks this momentous event in the history of humanity.”
It is thus a nice day to introduce Yoga to your kids with this nice book. “Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story”, written by educator Mariam Gates, is the perfect read if your child needs to relax and unwind before being able to sleep. It combines the benefits of Yoga with fun poses in which children try to imitate trees, stars, clouds… There is also a constant focus on respiration, a very important element of yoga, but also a very good life skill to acquire early in life: knowing how to control your breathing is great for better handling stress and anxiety. To make it easy for the child to reproduce the poses, each one is illustrated in a cute, colorful style by Sarah Jane Hinder. And to make it even more fun, you can do the poses along with your child… Everyone deserves a good night’s sleep!
Clémentine Carle, Moona editor and Journal Author
Maria Stavinski, Moona co-founder