Perhaps it was the lure of a bright sun on an otherwise cold morning or maybe everyone just wanted to sleep in a little longer, but the Lending Library was fairly empty this morning. So we had a small (very small, with just two girls and their moms) but engaged storytime audience. Actually, the quiet worked quite well for this week’s read, which focuses on the changing seasons, the passage of time, and one old, very tired bear.
by Kevin Henkes
Old Bear features Kevin Henkes’s signature illustrative style: soft, yet vivid visuals, focusing on lush environmental landscapes and personifying characters with the most subtle of techniques. Coupled with the simple elegance of the text, the result is a book that is as lovely to read as it is to look at. And it’s great for both younger and older readers, as the story is easy enough for very little children to follow, but carries resonant themes that are best explained to older children.
With toddlers, twos and threes, focus on the colors of the illustration, the actions of the bear, the seasons and the changes in the setting. Ask them what each season brings to the page. Is there rain? Is there snow? What colors can be found in each season?
Children age four and up can consider the larger themes of the book. Why does the old bear dream about himself as a cub? What part of his dreams are realistic and which parts are fantastical? How much time passes before the old bear wakes up into Spring? Talk about the seasons and which months fall into each season. What are your children’s favorite seasons and why?
Kevin Henkes has a great library of nature-focused books, so if you and your kids love Old Bear, be sure to check out these other titles:
Storytime is every Monday at 10 am and is intended for all ages.