Use Your Imagination! Picture Books
Little kids don’t need to be told to pretend. My son Alex was five years old when Nathan was born, and despite the difference in their ages, they played very well together for several years…until overnight Alex seemed to grow out of pretend. Their play would start out peaceable, but when Nathan became too imaginative, Alex would get frustrated and say, “You can’t do that. It’s not REAL!”
Here are some picture books for those kids who still find reality and pretend to be interchangeable.
It is 1957, and Isabel and her family are moving from Mexico to Michigan. Isabel is sad to leave behind her home and her Aunt Lupita and especially her language. This story of immigration and assimilation is told through Isabel’s letters to Aunt Lupita. Isabel is thrilled when they get a new refrigerator and her brother gives her the box. She uses it as a quiet place, a safe place for herself and her books…until the box was ruined in a storm. Isabel’s mother makes cakes for birthday parties, and at the parties Isabel watches for big boxes—and starts a new quiet place. But will she be able to make new friends? And will she ever get used to not hearing Spanish?
Most little girls like playing dress-up, but the little red-haired girl narrating this book in rhyme just loves wearing old clothes. She loves their mystery and wonders about their history. “I wonder who wore you before you were mine?…Did you make her look awful or make her look fine?” She likes dressing up in old fancy clothes, “Once-for-good clothes, / Now-for-play clothes.” When she wears her old clothes, she tries to imagine “The places they’ve been / And the faces they’ve seen— / And whose clothes they’ll be / When they’ve finished with me.” A great book for units on clothes, and a perfect read-aloud to help the imaginations run wild.
The broadcaster announces, “Welcome to the ballyard, fans. We’re in the bottom of the 22nd inning, score knotted at 47 runs apiece, Pirates at the plate.” 22 innings? 47 runs each? These pirates aren’t from Pittsburgh! No, this game pits real Pirates against real Cowboys, and it’s not like any baseball game you’ve ever seen. Hopalong Cassidy warms up by a campfire in a pen full of bulls. Long John Silver blasts the ball toward the fence with a cannon while the Cisco Kid races to catch it on his horse. When the Pirates are caught stealing bases for real, both teams erupt from the dugouts, and it looks like the worst fight yet until—“Stewart! It’s time for supper!” And the game ends in a tie as Stewart packs up his little plastic cowboys and pirates. Tomorrow’s game? Vikings versus Tigers.
Marisol is an artist, and a very creative one at that. She is very excited when her teacher announces that their class will be painting a mural for the library and volunteers to paint the sky. But the box of paints has no blue. How can you make the sky without blue paint? On the way home and later in the evening, Marisol watches the sky and wonders how she will solve this problem. The next morning, as Marisol waits in the rain under a gray sky for the bus, she understands what color the sky is…it is every color!
And the thing about kids growing out of pretend? It doesn’t last. When he was 17, Alex and his friends met in the park one evening…to have a light-saber battle.
Blogger: Tracey L.