Tuesday, November 3, 2009
As I was driving to the preschool meeting tonight, the moon was at its biggest and most beautiful. Just a month ago, the moon and the light it shed on the earth was shiny and silver, but tonight, this huge Harvest Moon has become the ripe-cheese color it's always supposed to be this time of year. Golden-yellow, and casting a golden glow. Perfect! It's beautiful and peaceful and awe-inspiring.
I think tomorrow I'll read Kitten's First Full Moon to the 2-year-olds! This lovely book by Kevin Henkes is one of a small handful of books that have become my very favorite children's books, especially for toddlers and 2's. I'm picky about kids' books, but even so, sometimes I don't get them "right." A book that I think will be perfect for the children holds no interest for them. Or a book that I think has nothing to offer becomes a class favorite! What do I know, anyway? Kids know what they need and like.
But this one, and a few others are tried and true favorites. It's Kitten's first full moon! He mistakes it for a little bowl of milk-- and looking at it sitting up there in the sky makes him thirsty. Kitten tries everything he can think of to reach that imaginary bowl of milk, to disastrous results. Reminds me a lot of toddlers and their misperceptions and their bold quests.
I think the reason toddlers, 2's, and even preschoolers love this book so much is that Kitten also reminds them of themselves. In Kitten's mistake, they see reflected many of the mistakes that they make in understanding the world. They identify with his strong need to get the milk by any means necessary! And they feel his pain when he ends up wet, cold, tired, lonely, and hungry.
But of course the best part is the happy ending, because we all want to infuse our children with a sense of hope. We want them to know that the world is a hopeful, positive place, where small miracles happen every day. Every time I read this book, it always makes adults AND children happy that the story ends with a kitten who has a full tummy and feels loved.
Take your child outside at bedtime to see this beautiful moon! Maybe even let her stay up a little bit late to enjoy it and watch it move in the sky. It might be her First Full Moon too, at least in her conscious memory. Take a moon-walk in your neighborhood, have a moon-picnic, and then enjoy this lovely story together. But be ready to read it many, many times. Once will never be enough!
(Another day: I'll tell you about my Favorite Children's Book Of All Time, also a Kevin Henkes book.)
Posted by ANNIE CASTLE DECKERT, M.ED.PSYCH.