Sunday, August 12, 2012

Children's Book Monday (Night Sky Edition)

I've kept the words I wrote weeks ago.  It's been lovely.

We've walked in the woods as the sun first began to set and counted the early stars as they barely began to shine.  We've walked in heavy darkness, where if we switched off the flashlights, we couldn't see a thing except when we looked up!

And last night, at five minutes to midnight, we pulled sleepy, warm bodies from their beds, rubbed the shoulders of big boys and whispered, Wake up!  It's time!

They slipped on jeans and socks, yawning as they stepped into tennis shoes, still tied.  We wrapped a Story Blanket around her and a soft fleece blanket around Little Man and stepped out into the night.

We walked past the garage, over the dike, down the hill and into the woods, oldest son stepping onto the one barbed wire that still stretches saggingly across *our* path, allowing us to safely make our way over.

The quiet meadow called us, flat land next to the river with not too many trees; we took seats on an old fallen trunk, dry and brittle... and looked up.

And for twenty minutes, we enjoyed a glorious show.

Stars filled some areas so thickly, the sky was practically a mist; we found the Dippers, and pointed out planets.  And all the while, meteors streaked across the sky, orange and red and white; from the corners of our eyes we would exclaim, Oh, I saw one! at the exact same time as each other and then break into laughter.  Little ones snuggled close in their blankets, heads tipped back and yawns escaping; happy, sleepy noises.

I could have stayed all night (well, probably not- but I wanted to!), but after awhile even the big boys were blinking slow and longing for their beds.

We whispered glory to God, gratitude for His gifts, for His care of us in this vast, brilliant space.  I teared up (what else is new?) at the profiles of my children, faces shining from the light in His heavens.  Because it is all so very, very good.

For weeks we've had three books in our nature basket that have been thumbed through repeatedly, especially by Eliana.  She's listened, fascinated, as her Daddy held a globe, told her she was the sun, then turned the earth around and asked her when it was day and when it was night in the lands that passed her.  Perhaps our night walks have peaked interest that long lay dormant; but even I have found  myself looking for constellations in the pages, finding their mythic names and learning more from my boys of what they've spent years reading about in their mythology studies.

by W. Maxwell Reed

This book makes quite an effort to educate us about the origin of the constellations.  The drawings are few and simple and easy to understand, and I really appreciate the ratio of story to picture.  Reading much like a chapter book, it is perhaps best fitting as a lunchtime or evening read-aloud to learn about the origins of the stories of the pictures in our sky.

by H.A. Rey

This, this, THIS is my favorite!!  Recognize the author?  Beloved writer of the Curious George Books, Mr. Rey created this fact and fun-filled book  in 1954.   It is packed with quizzes, puzzles and games, and many, many stories written in such a pleasant way for children.  I found this one at our tiny local library, but it is definitely on our wish list now. 

by Herbert S. Zim

This is the one I find most frequently in Eliana's hands; it may because of the size, which is a perfect handheld book measuring about 6x4.  The paintings inside are gorgeous, and the full two-page spreads of the constellations in each season of the year are fascinating to examine.   

Along with the books on constellations, our last library visit found me drawn to night books, so we're quite set with those as well; Nocturne and Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, Fox's Dream by Tejima, Sea of Dreams by Dennis Nolan, Once When I Was Scared by Helena Clare Pittman... as the days grow shorter and the nights longer, these evening walks are far more attainable (and enjoyable, as the weather cools down!)- happy reading and happy, happy night sky watching!
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