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Summer-Themed Children's Books: Blackouts and Gardens!

Posted: 07/27/11 02:23 PM ET

Ahhhh, summertime! The one season that most people seem to wait for all year, only to have many complain about the heat once it finally arrives!

Summertime always seems to go hand in hand with reading. Whether it's by the calm tranquility of the lake or amongst the kids' splashes in the pool, there seems to be something so special and calming about summer reading.

Do we read to our children as much in the summertime as we tend to during the school year? Given my own observations and experiences, I would say that with the absence of the same routine, bedtime stories occasionally get replaced by extra time outdoors and attending fun summer activities. And while we may not read as much or as often to our children during these short months, I do have some great book finds for when you 're looking to spend some quiet time with your kids. Reading summertime themed books is a great way to allow our children to enjoy summer in a bit of a different way... through literature!

Blackouts for example, have become part of summer heat waves, but they don't have to be bad. Blackout, a new picture book by John Rocco, offers a great perspective and sheds some positive light for us and our kids, on the brighter side of a blackout.

The illustrations in this book are brilliant. The pictures are appropriately darker, using shades of blue and black with well placed hints of warm light and colour. I especially love how Rocco captures the glow of the burning candle and the way it illuminates the family he has illustrated. Really beautiful! The text isn't too wordy or descriptive; it doesn't need to be. This book is great example of how text and illustrations can merge beautifully to create a masterful story.

This is a fantastic book to read to your children with the lights out... it would be fun to read it by a flashlight under the covers or by the camp fire. Or, still great when read aloud in your illuminated (and hopefully air conditioned) bedroom! Any way you read it, a great choice.

And while the lights can go out, the power of imagination and creativity is constant. Rocco has found an effective way to help your child's imagination soar! Think of all the fun things we can do when we unplug. Talk to your kids about blackouts... perhaps reminisce about your experiences, or simply make it a game of "what if." Ask your kids what they would do during a blackout -- I bet they would come up with some fun and creative ideas.

Another great summertime book is My Garden by Kevin Henkes. In this book, Henkes explores and highlights the wonder and organic purity of a child's imagination! The illustrations in this book (watercolour paints and ink) are beautiful and sweet and bring this story to life. There are dazzling shades of pinks and purples and yellows and blues. Told in first person, the story itself, is of a girl who helps her mother in the garden. While helping her mother in the garden, she begins to think about how her garden would grow, if she had one of her own. The jelly bean bush, the chocolate bunnies and the invisible carrots are just some of the fun, creative and imaginative ideas in this story. Henkes writes so authentically, that it seems as though this story were written by a little girl. Truly genuine.

However you choose to spend your summer with your children, books are a great thing to incorporate into your summertime fun. Happy reading!