Howdy! I’m on vacation in Brazil for most of September, so I turned the tables on my readers and opened up the blog for guests posts while I’m gone. Today’s guest post comes from Debi Morton. She wrote and sent this to me before I had posted the gift giving guide, and I think it’s a perfect illustration of what I meant by the “experiences” section!
One of the best things about being a grandmother, as almost everyone knows, is reading to your grandchildren. I love hearing them say, “just one more book, please!” or “will you read our goodnight books to us tonight?” when I am at their house or they are at mine. We try to buy them books for every occasion, whether Christmas or birthdays, and often just for fun. One of our favorite outings when they are with us is to the bookstore, where we spend time playing and reading, and then, of course, buying at least one book for everyone. And a couple of months ago when my husband and I stayed with one of the families while their parents were out of town, we even went to the library in their town on a rainy afternoon, where we spent about an hour joyfully reading books out loud, and then left with armloads of books for everyone. I found the 3-year-old sitting up in bed that night, after he was supposed to be going to sleep, happily looking at his “new” books. We are fortunate that all of their parents love books, so they are read to out loud often, even the 8-year-olds, which is delightful.
One of the joys I have had with the grandchildren is bringing literature to life in many ways. We live in a large metropolitan area, so there are several theater groups in our city. We have taken the children to see several theater productions of some of the wonderful books they have read. We enjoy one particular small theater troop that has a wonderful children’s theater and have seen their productions of “Charlotte’s Web,” “The Velveteen Rabbit,” “Jungle Book,” and just last week I took my two oldest granddaughters to see “Anne of Avonlea.” The fun thing is that, with the exception of “Jungle Book,” they had read all of these books before we went. One of the 8-year-olds had not yet read the “Anne” books, but when her mom heard we were going to see the play, she bought her “Anne of Green Gables” and she was reading it when we went.
One of my sons has been reading the “Little House on the Prairie” series to his daughters and when the oldest was about five, they asked us to buy her the TV series on DVD. This was another fun way to bring the books to life for her. Their whole family loves to watch the episodes and see what life was like for the Ingles. It richly enhances the books.
Another fun way we brought the “Little House” series to life for my granddaughter occurred when she was 6-years-old. The house where the “Little House” books were written and a museum dedicated to the series and to the Ingles’ family are in Mansfield, Missouri. When my granddaughter was six, she and her daddy and I flew to Springfield, MO, and drove to Mansfield to see the house and museum. She was mesmerized. It totally brought what she had read to life for her as she saw dresses Laura had worn, beds she had slept in and the house she had lived in. Now her little sister is reading the books with her dad and is 5-years-old. She is asking when it will be her turn to go to Missouri and is anxiously waiting to go. I am as excited as she is to take her!
One last example I would use is a bit backwards. My daughter-in-law and I started taking my oldest granddaughter to see “The Nutcracker” ballet about three years ago and then added her little sister to our outing a couple of years later. Of course, “The Nutcracker” started as a ballet, but since then several beautiful books have been written about the story. My daughter-in-law bought a lovely book for the girls to read before going to the production. It was a great way for them to understand the story and what they would be seeing. I highly recommend doing this if you are going to take your children to see any ballet or concert.
If you want to give your children or grandchildren some experiences with to bring their literature alive, but don’t live in a large city, don’t despair. Your public library probably has a children’s department that may do puppet shows. And, as I mentioned above, DVD’s of movies and TV shows can be used. And my grandchildren even like to act out the books themselves. One of my granddaughters even had a “Little House” birthday party, where her mom taught the girls how to make their own butter. You can find directions for the whole party experience online.
Enhancing literature with experiences brings another dimension to reading that children enjoy. If it is done to enrich the experience of reading and not to replace it, it can be a joy and I highly recommend it.