The Very Lonely Firefly

In more halcyon times, a major childhood joy involved watching the sun set, anticipating the “magical” lights (fireflies) that appeared, and dancing and darting around the yard. So parents, close your eyes and remember being a child on a late spring or early summer night: the excitement of staying up late and playing outside after dark – so innocent, yet so thrilling! Recall the fervor with which you leapt and grabbed at the illuminated dots floating in the air, as well as the elation of peeking through clasped fingers to the tiny winged creature in your hands.

This rite of passage enchants children to this day. Whether day or night, kids always remain ready to be captivated by nature’s treasures – and parents, this month’s book suggestions should help you acquaint your children with the mysterious and fascinating world of insects.

The Very Lonely Firefly by popular author/illustrator Eric Carle provides a delightful introduction to fireflies. With his inimitable collages, Carle crafts an inviting landscape featuring a naive bug venturing on its own for the first time. The titular lonely firefly, looking for companionship, seeks several sources of light, only to find just inanimate objects glowing all around.

Babies and toddlers should enjoy the colors and textures in Carle’s illustrations, and preschoolers should independently identify what they see happening as the story progresses, even anticipating and naming the various light sources. Also, children of all ages should love the illuminating “surprise” at the end of this board book!

Parents, you can add to Carle’s text by calling out familiar shapes and patterns in his pictures, and by taking a moment to guide your children’s fingers to count the legs, antennae, wings and objects shown.

The beautiful Step Gently Out, this month’s second book, will go this summer to thousands of St. Louis-area children through the Ready Readers program. It features a poem by Helen Frost as the text and stunning photographs by Rick Lieder. Together, Frost and Lieder provide an amazingly intimate view of insects, one that allows readers to see the beauty of each creature.

The lines of Frost’s poetry are split between photos, encouraging young readers to view each insect with awe, appreciating its individual marvels. The rhythm of the prose poem should charm small children, and older ones should be fascinated at observing up close the intricacies of bugs’ forms.

Parents, be sure to note the colors, shapes, sizes and names of the creepy-crawly critters. (If you’re unsure, check the individual photo information at the end of the book.) Also, expand your children’s enjoyment of the book by taking it outside and searching for specimens in the yard or a nearby park. Likewise, talk with your children about the role insects play in our environment and the need to respect them as living creatures; in that regard, urge your children to gently explore bugs’ lives, before returning them to their habitats so they can continue working.

The world abounds with wonders great and small. So parents, grab a magnifying glass or a flashlight, and accompany your children outside to discover the many spectacles of our natural world both in daylight and after dark. 

At Ready Readers, we know that “Kids Who Read Succeed!” If you enjoy reading and sharing the magic of books, please consider reading aloud to a classroom of preschool children in an underserved area of our community as a Ready Readers volunteer.

Step Gently Out

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