Friday, May 24, 2013

Cuddle-up Summer

The other day I stumbled upon this.

A mom with her toddler and pre-schooler had just left the Public Library, only steps away. She spread out a blanket on the lush green grass of the Square and sat down. The toddler quickly scrambled onto her lap, while the older child snuggled in closely. Out of a bag came a stack of books.

I sat at a discreet distance away and couldn't help but take a snap of this image. This is a place where I often come to read. It is a peaceful space, and yet right in the thick of things too. If you know what I mean. This young family was oblivious to all the goings-on around them though. They were totally engrossed in the books and in the moment.

For the most part my children did not grow up in this city. They grew up on the shores of Lake Huron, where we literally did beach reads almost every sunny summer day. It was a pretty awesome way to pass the time in July and August. I am sure, had we been here when Daughter1, Daughter2, and OnlySon were little, we would have spent many afternoons pouring over our new library books right in this same spot.

That got me thinking about some of the books in our own home library that have made great cuddle-up-on-a picnic-blanket books.

For Younger Children

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein - does it need a comment?

The Tree That Grew to the Moon by Eugenie Fernandes - our family has always been great fans of Fernandes and her illustrations. This one is perfect for a hot summer day in the city.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault - just in case your audience is getting a little sleepy and you want to wake them up so they will have their nap at home (thereby giving you your me-time). This one is just silly and fun.

For Older Children

Jessie's Island and Waiting for the Whales, both by Sheryl McFarlane (different illustrators) - beautiful language and rhythm to each of these books. And a message.

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit - a chapter a day under the shade of a big maple tree sounds like a great way to enjoy this classic.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - could come in a close second to how I was introduced to Hogwarts. Mr. Fun had gone ahead to a new job in a new city. OnlySon was playing on a Travel Baseball team which required a lot of travel and took us to all corners of our county. That summer the children took turns reading Harry aloud in the car as we travelled to the ball games. Great Memories!

Do you have a favorite cuddle-up summer read-aloud? Any special reading plans for the summer?


  1. Oh, Jessie's Island! How I loved that book - such evocative language and illustrations! I always remember the way the artist painted the bark on the trees in particular.

    I still have such a fondness for The Railway Children. It's another book with gorgeous illustrations too. I wanted to be Bobbie!

    And now that we're on the subject of beautifully illustrated books, Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess just captivated me. It might not be a "snuggle-up" book (love that term!) but I remember devouring that book and even naming my best friend's toy ferret (a stuffed one, although I'm not sure that makes it any better!) Melchisedec after the rat in the story! The edition I read had absolutely stunning illustrations, too. I actually wish more "adult" books had illustrations sometimes!

  2. Way, way too many books that could be enjoyed on a blanket in the shade of a big maple. And illustrations play a big part in a book that is shared in a slow way like this.

    Jessie's Island - in my Top 25 picture books, for sure! Love, love, love that language.


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