". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Animals, Animals, Animals

A few weeks ago Evan and I started an animal "unit." (I put the word "unit" in quotation marks because it suggests organization and planning, neither of which are in play here.) We started reading The Story of Dr. Dolittle, and I pulled an armload of animal books off the shelf. A few of them are old favorites from the circa 1960 Random House "Step-Up" series (here's an example): Animals Do the Strangest Things, Reptiles Do the Strangest Things, Insects Do the Strangest Things, Birds Do the Strangest Things, and Fish Do the Strangest Things. As a child, I devoured these books. (There are other books in the series--mostly biographical and historical--and I credit the reading of those books with much of the basic historical knowledge that has remained with me. Somewhere along the way we got rid of my set of books, but a few years ago I had the opportunity to buy a vintage set online for a very reasonable price, and I grabbed it.)

Another book that came down from the shelf was one that has been there a year or two but that we had not yet investigated: Eric Carle's Animals, Animals.

You know how there are books you enjoy but then pass on and books you keep and treasure? This one is in the second category--it will always have a place in our home. Within a few minutes of opening it Evan was hooked. The book combines Eric Carle's illustrations with various poems and literary passages about animals. Authors included are Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Kipling, Lewis Carroll, Jack Prelutsky, Ogden Nash, and Benjamin Franklin, as well as passages from the Bible, Talmud, and folk sayings and poems from a variety of cultures. Evan on his own has repeatedly revisited this book even though some of the selections are not typical first grade fare:

"I will not change my horse with any that treads . . .
When I bestride him I soar. I am a hawk.
He trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it."
--William Shakespeare

I dare you to tell my kid that passage is beyond his reading/comprehension level.

The third group of books we have been enjoying is from Usborne: the "Beginner" series. I believe several of these books are included in Sonlight's primary science curriculum. Evan has enjoyed Eggs and Chicks and Tadpoles and Frogs but halfway through his reading of Caterpillars and Butterflies he brought me the book and instructed me to put it where he could no longer see it. He's a sensitive one, this child. The illustration of a puss mouth caterpillar rising up to frighten its enemies was too much for him. This book will be stored for the time being.

What book(s) have you and your child been enjoying lately?


Melody said...

Books? Me AND my child enjoying? Together? Bwahahahaha! I'm still BEGGING her to read To Kill a Mockingbird. Obscure fiction; she's there. Anything anyone has ever called "classic?" Are you kidding me?
But I did just set that Shakespeare quote as my default e-mail signature!

Suzanne said...

The latest bedtime story was "Sophie the Awesome." It's about a girl named Sophie and her best friend Kate. Hmm, I wonder why my girls got into that?