Thursday, July 2, 2009

Reading Aloud is As Easy as Apple Pie

Reading Aloud is As Easy as Apple Pie
Dear friends,

I love to read picture books to my kids! In fact, I think that in the early years, this can be the best strategy for home schooling. I’ve always said, “A little phonics, a little math, a little handwriting, and LOTS of cuddling up with picture books on the couch!” The beauty of it is that it is so simple and satisfying. It’s as easy as apple pie!

I recently picked out a stack of picture books from the library that all feature apple pies somewhere in the story line. The differences in them illustrate various ways you can use picture books to teach more than just reading to your kids. If you click on the titles, you can see the books and their summaries on the Seminole County library web site. (Scroll up to see each cover picture on each page.)

How To Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman: I can’t count how many times I’ve checked this one out! It’s a funny story about a little girl who wants to make an apple pie, but the local market is closed, so she travels around the world gathering ingredients. It’s a good opportunity to look up different countries on a globe or world map, and explore the culture of at least one of them. This book is one of the selections in the Five in a Row curriculum. I can’t wait to see the author’s newer book, How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A.

How to Bake an American Pie by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Raul Colon: This whimsical rhyming book on how to “bake an American pie” symbolizes how to build a strong country. There are plenty of literary and visual allusions to such things as the song “O Beautiful” and Mt. Rushmore. I appreciate the reference to faith as well, in such lines as, “Now roll out a top of spacious skies to cover this country of ours. Place in God’s grace and allow to rise. Then garnish with fifty bright stars.”

The Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Jonathan Bean: Written in the same add-on style as the poem “The House That Jack Built” this warm tale celebrates nature and family. The illustrations are an amusing folksy primitive style, brown and black with splashes or red. My kids like me to read even the longest lines all in one breath!

Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong, illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine explores how a young American girl, daughter of Chinese immigrants, blends both cultures. “No one wants Chinese food on the Fourth of July, I say. We’re in apple-pie America, and my parents are cooking chow mein!” Illustrations are cut-paper style.

The President and Mom’s Apple Pie by Michael Garland: Portly President Taft is in town to dedicate a new flag pole, but gets distracted by the smell of something really yummy… This book, full of Americana and bright computerized illustrations, and might be a good way to introduce an American president who isn’t quite as well-known as Washington and Lincoln.

Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis by Robbin Gourley is a tribute to the childhood of famous African-American chef Edna Lewis. Edna and her kin make the best of the bounty of the earth, from wild blackberries to pecans, as they also cultivate family ties. You’ll also find folk rhymes, recipes, and a very informative author’s note in this loving water color painted picture book.
“There’s so much to do with good apples!” says Edna. “With bushels of apples in the cellar, we’ll have apple butter and apple cider and applesauce all winter long. But today I’ll make apple crisp, sweet and tart at the same time.”

Then she sings:

“Don’t ask me no questions,
an’ I’ll tell you no lies.
But bring me some apples,
an’ I’ll make you some pies.
And if you ask questions
‘bout my havin’ the flour,
I’ll forget to use ‘lasses,
an’ the pie will be sour.”


If you like the idea of reading aloud, especially as it relates to food, be sure to check out my friend Cheryl Bastian’s books, Flip 3 Pancakes With 1 Spatula (which integrates cooking, literature and math), You Have to Read This One! Raising a Contagious Reader, and its companion guide, Check These Out, which is a unit study on library books.

I was trying to think if I had already posted a certain excerpt about reading aloud from my book Common Sense Excellence on the web. I hadn’t, but some home schoolers in Australia put it up on their site after I had sent it out by e-mail a while back. That saved me a step today! You can find it here: The Beauty of Reading Aloud. (Please note that the web address they have for me on the bottom of the page is obsolete!)

A post about apple pie books would not be complete without a reference to an excellent library cook book, Apple Pie Perfect: 100 Delicious and Decidedly Different Recipes for America’s Favorite Pie by Ken Haedrich, which features such delicacies as Traditional Lattice-Top Apple Pie, Apple Plum Pie with Coconut Streusel, Skins-On Apple Pie with a Whole Wheat Crust, Apple Cheesecake Burritos, and Sam and Jim’s Butterscotch Apple Pie for Kids. (We made this last one: simple and satisfying!) I drool just browsing through this book, and I sure enjoy the author’s commentary and stories behind each recipe. Check it out!

Goodbye, goodbye, you’re the apple of my eye! (Hey, did you know that expression comes from the Bible? Psalm 17:8 says, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” We’re special to God! Keep that thought with you today, no matter what you read or eat!)


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