“Frederick” by Leo Lionni is an ideal bedtime story. The lovely pictures and sweet story are especially perfect for this time of year.
Frederick is a little field mouse who lives with his family. Winter is fast approaching, and his relatives are working hard to get ready for the cold weather. While they’re gathering grains and grasses and corn, Frederick simply sits quietly by himself. When his family asks why he’s not working, he tells them that he is – but his work is different from theirs. Instead of food, Frederick gathers sunshine and colors and words. He tells the other mice that they’ll be very happy to have such things during the long, cold winter days.
Winter arrives and the mice huddle together in their home in the stone wall. At first, they enjoy each other’s company, telling silly stories and munching on their food supply. As the days stretch on, the food starts to run out, and the mice don’t have much to talk about anymore – then they remember Frederick’s supplies. Frederick asks his family to close their eyes. He stands on a rock and, with his words, brings them the golden rays of the sun, the bright colors of the field, and a little poem to carry them through the frigid days. The mice are warm and happy and comforted – all thanks to Frederick.
Here are some fun ideas to bring the magic of Frederick into your child’s everyday life:
Just like Frederick did with his family, challenge your child to paint you a picture with their words. Have your child describe something they love – it could be a delicious cake or a favorite toy. This will help with using descriptive language and encourage your child’s creativity. When they’re done, tell them to close their eyes while you paint them a word picture!
Building a nest
Talk to your child about what the little mice were gathering for winter, and ask your child what kinds of things they would like to gather, if they were going to have to spend the coldest days in a safe, warm place. Would your child want a never-ending supply of candy bars? Lots of comfy pillows? A TV? Board games? Ask your child to draw a picture of the ultimate nest!
Frederick was a poet (and he definitely did know it!). Rhyming is a wonderful way to build vocabulary – and have fun. Create a silly rhyming game by saying a sentence and encouraging your child to rhyme it. For example, you could say “I saw a purple cat,” and your child could rhyme with “Eating an orange hat!” The funnier, the better! For older kids, make the rhymes trickier – or make the rhyme sequence harder.
Take a walk with your child. If you live near a forest, it’s a great time of year for a hike. Wander through the trees and gather some of your own words and colors. When you get home, get out the watercolors (or pencil crayons) and encourage your child to put their words and colors on paper.