There are signs of spring all around us -- the rain, the wind and even a few sun-filled days letting us know that the seasons will be changing. This weekend, daylight-saving time begins, making the days seem longer and paving the way to spring and summer. Kids are almost always fascinated with the magical night where the time either falls back or springs forward. Fuel your child's curiosity about time by checking out some of these books at your local library.
By Wendy Mass
Scholastic Press, 2009
For ages: 9-12
Amanda and Leo have been best friends since they were born on the same day 11 years ago. Everything had been great between them until last year's 10th birthday, when Amanda overheard Leo say mean things about her to impress his friends. Leo's insults resulted in the usually inseparable pair not speaking for a whole year. For the first time in their lives, Amanda and Leo are planning separate celebrations for their 11th birthday. Dreading her party, Amanda tries to make the best of her birthday, but things go from bad to worse when she has a fight with her sister, she doesn't make the gymnastics team, her mom loses her job, and her party is a disaster. Amanda is glad when the day is over -- this is one birthday she will gladly forget. The next morning, however, she wakes up and discovers that it is her birthday again! Amanda must enlist the help of Leo, who is also repeating his birthday, and find a way to get back to the day after their birthday. One of this year's Bluebonnet Award nominees, this is a great book about friendships and family.
A Second Is a Hiccup: A Child's Book of Time
By Hazel Hutchins, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2004
For ages: 4-8
Kid-friendly verses explain measurements of time in whimsical and fun ways. Life's most challenging questions are posed. How long is a second, minute, hour, day, week, month and year? This book answers them all in easy-to-understand language. A second is described as "a hiccup -- the time it takes to kiss your mom." A week is "seven days all in a line, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and the end day Saturday -- a favorite one! Some are quiet, some are fun. Work days, home days, play days, school days."
A week is used to describe a month, "four weeks add up to be a month. Lots of time for things to change, seasons often rearrange. Winters melt and warm to springs, caterpillars find their wings, and if you fall and scrape a shin, in a month there's brand new skin." The last unit of time described is the year. Kids are reminded that no matter how many years pass, they will always be loved.
Lively watercolor and pencil drawings show diverse kids throughout the year in everyday activities, like baking and playing sports, but most of all celebrating the gift of life.
Bats Around the Clock
By Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
HarperCollins Children's, 2000
For ages: 4-8
This funny, rhyming book stars Click Dark, a bat who is hosting a special 12-hour American Batstand television program. Cuddly bats spend 12 hours boogying live to the old-time favorite dance crazes. The bats start the shrug at 1 o'clock, and with the change of each hour and page, the bats change dances. Each page displays a clock with the correct time. By the evening, the whole nation is riveted and ready! The show's finale is at midnight, when an Elvis-impersonating bat takes the stage, blue suede shoes and all. Kids will love telling time on each page and dancing with the bats all night long.
By Myra Cohn Livingston, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Holiday House, 2007
For ages: 4-8
This classic children's poem is paired with new collage illustrations that together depict the whole calendar year. Each page spread is dedicated to a month and highlights the best part of each. For example, "January shivers" shows a child bundled in winter red hanging a homemade bird feeder on a bare tree. February "shines" with festive Valentine's Day decorations. Each month celebrates the wonderful memories of childhood, such as the Fourth of July fireworks and school starting in September. December is the best "because of sleds and snow and Santa Claus." Kids will enjoy thinking about different times throughout the year, and the story reminds readers that good times and memories are made all year 'round.
A Wrinkle in Time
By Madeleine L'Engle
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1962
For ages: 10 and up
This timeless Newbery winner should not be missed. This is the story of Meg, her brother Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin. Meg is an awkward high-school girl with glasses and braces who longs to fit in with her schoolmates. Part of Meg's reluctance to make friends in school has to do with the fact that her scientist father has been gone for a long time and people around town are gossiping about his departure. Everything changes when Charles Wallace meets Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, three older women who have taken up residence in the cabin near Meg's house. The trio are mysterious and seem to know something about Meg's father, and more importantly are on a mission to enlist the help of Meg, her brother and their friend. L'Engle's classic writing style makes the possibilities of time and space travel seem real. The adventures are full of surprises and excitement and are another great reminder of how unbreakable the power of love is.
When You Reach Me
By Rebecca Stead
Wendy Lamb Books, 2009
For ages: 10 and up
Recently named the Newbery Medal winner for 2010, When You Reach Me is a beautifully written book set in 1979 New York City. Stead creates a magical cast of characters, starring sixth-grader Miranda, a smart city kid. She and her mom have rules for living in the city that include always having your key out before you reach the door and if a stranger is outside the building, walking around the block until he goes away. Miranda is content with Mom and Mom's boyfriend, Richard. Her best friend Sal even lives downstairs in her building. But everything changes when Sal is punched on the street by another kid. Sal is OK but seems to shut down emotionally after this, leaving Miranda on her own. Soon mysterious notes predicting the future begin to arrive for Miranda. They even suggest that time travel is possible! Who is sending these notes, and how is it possible to know what will happen next? This is a wonderful tribute to A Wrinkle in Time, and readers will be fascinated by the mysterious notes that Miranda receives.
LISA ERICKSON IS ASSISTANT MANAGER AT THE YOUTH CENTER AT THE DOWNTOWN FORT WORTH PUBLIC LIBRARY. LOOK FOR THESE BOOKS AT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY.