Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Read Along with Grandfather Twilight

Update: Polly has posted her additional activity idea for Grandfather Twilight here.

Since March is National Reading Month, my daughter Polly at Helping Little Hands has been posting read-along children's books and activities all month. Whew! It's been a busy month on her blog! If you like to read to little short people in your life, check out her wonderful March posts.

Grandfather Twilight

I'm excited to be linked to the Read-Along to feature Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger, in honor of grandparents...and bedtimes!...everywhere. 

This is a beautiful, classic bedtime story. I read to my own children when they were small, and even though that was a while ago, this wonderful book is still in print.

The story is peaceful and soothing, and the luminous artwork enchants me every time I share it with a child.

Now that my children are parents, I'd like to share it with grandchildren. But it's difficult for me to do that, because most of them live so far away!

Long-distance grandparents need to have a few tricks up their sleeve to stay connected with grandchildren whose parents don't have enough sense to live close to Grandma. I decided to use Grandfather Twilight as a "model" to create a little book about my husband and me for our grandchildren.

Grandfather Twilight opens with the line, "Grandfather Twilight lives among the trees..."

So I started the first page of my book by saying, "Grandma Kathy and Grandpa Mark live in a big blue house..."

Grandfather Twilight then goes through the Grandfather Twilight's nightly routine, but I wanted to share a little more of our lives with our grandchildren, so I added in a few of our daily activities, too. We both teach high school, and we love to play outdoors.

Then I transitioned into a few photos of Grandma and Grandpa and our bedtime routine, to stay true to Grandfather Twilight.

After I printed out the pictures with captions, I assembled them into inexpensive photo albums to take with us for our visit out-of-state grandchildren this week. (Hooray for spring break!) But if we hadn't been able to make the visit, I would have mailed the little photo album along with a copy of Grandfather Twilight for their mamas and daddies to read to them.

During our vacation, I was able to share Grandfather Twilight and my own little story book with two of our families in person! The children were tickled with both books.

They asked to hear Grandfather Twilight again and again. (Do they love it that much, or were they avoiding their own bedtime? Oh, it's so fun to be spoiled by visiting grandparents.)

And they pored over the little story book I made for them, too. Arora read this one to herself several times before we had to leave...hearing the bedtime book so many times had our own Grandpa Mark falling asleep! Time to head to the motel for the night.

Other ideas...
For young families on the other end of far-away, who want to help their children connect with grandparents, children could draw pictures of where they live and something they do at bedtime, and then mama could help them mail the drawing to grandma. Those little letters are always a hit at our house.

And here's another idea...coming soon! The other day Polly read Grandfather Twilight to her son and nap time, and together they came up with another wonderful "extension" idea for art and creative thinking. 

Polly will be posting more about how Little Brother creates his own "Grandfather Twilight," so be sure to check back to her blog. (Is it just me, or do I have a really smart little grandson?? Wait till you see what they have in store!)

One more wonderful grandparent book:
Looking for more grandparent books? Here's another tried-and-true title: 
Sitti's Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye.

"Sitti" means grandmother in Arabic, and the little girl in the story goes to visit her grandma in Palestine. The little girl doesn't speak Arabic, and her grandma doesn't speak English, but they find ways to communicate with love. I took my youngest daughter to hear a reading by the author when the book came out in the early 90s. It's still in print, and perhaps even more needed by the world today than it was then.

Last but not least...
Of course, I can't close this post without mentioning how wonderful it is to be a grandmother today, when we can skype with our little people! It is so fun to watch their growth and progress, and skyping gives them a chance to see what we are like, too. My friend Dorothy often reads books to her grandchildren via skype. She arranges with the parents ahead of time, so that the children have a copy of the book on their end of the skype, and Dorothy has a copy on her end, too. They can read it together, talk about the pictures, and genuinely enjoy a book together even though they are 3,000 miles apart! Genius.

She inspired us so much that Mark and I bought skype cameras for our children as Christmas gifts last year. We found good little cameras, reasonably priced (about $12-$15) at Radio Shack. (Mark bought them online.)

Reading is such a wonderful way for grandparents and grandchildren to bond. Even over long distances, we can share our love of stories with the children in our lives.


Sarah said...

The media has apparently brainwashed me. I read the blog title and immediately thought "why is Kathy talking about vampires?" Cute book. My mom made one for Elsie about all the adventures they had together last year and Elsie always asks to read the Deedee book.

shawnacy said...

such a sweet and fun idea! i love how important your family is to you despite the long distances. it's so important to build strong family ties. i posted a similar idea today about making video (or audio) recordings of book readings for the kids to listen to again and again.
thanks for the post!

Dorothy said...

I've never heard of "Grandfather Twighlight". Guess I need to get a copy and clue in. :)

Love and Lollipops said...

Hi Kathy!

Thanks for popping by my blog! I just LOVE what you did with "Grandfather Twilight" and how you made your own version!! What a wonderful idea! I don't know the book at all...I'm definitely going to go and find it! :)

Take care,