Go beyond the pages and experience this autumn children’s book
The leaves are changing colors, the temperature is dropping and the days are getting shorter. That means it’s the perfect time of year to snuggle up with a good book (or two, or three). Fall is here, and we’ve got a great book recommendation, followed by activities you can do with your kids!
“South” begins with a little bird awakening after a nap, only to find his flock has flown south without him. Fortunately for the bird, Mooch the cat is available to help remedy the situation. Mooch takes his new friend on a journey through busy city streets, a leafy autumn forest, and the first snow of the season. After a very long walk, the duo hears the sound of birds chirping – it’s the flock! With a final hug, Mooch and the bird bid each other farewell. The bird rejoins his friends and they fly south for the winter and Mooch watches them as they fade into the distance.“South” by Patrick McDonnell (published by Little, Brown & Company) is the perfect autumn picture book. While it’s intended for children aged 6-9, the simple drawings and sweet take-home message are sure to be enjoyed by kids of all ages.
More than anything else, this story emphasizes friendship and helping others. It’s also a great springboard to discuss autumn and how some animals cope with the coming winter. Here are some activity ideas to further reinforce the concepts!
- Caring Jar – Talk to your child about how Mooch cared about the bird and how their friendship made them both feel. Brainstorm some ideas about how your child (or family) can help others. They could be long-term, like volunteering for an organization, or more short term like raking a neighbor’s leaves. Write all of the ideas down on strips of paper and put them into a jar. Pull out one slip of paper each week to find out what kind of caring you’ll be doing.
- I ‘Be-Leaf’ in You – Cut out a large tree from a piece of newsprint or Bristol board. Paint the tree brown and hang it on a wall. Cut out leaves from different colored construction paper. On each leaf, have a family member write a hope or a dream that they’d like to accomplish (i.e. “I’d like to get an A on a math test this year”). Talk to your family about how they can support each other, and help to fulfill the hopes on the tree. When a hope or dream has been fulfilled, remove it from the branches and place it at the bottom of the tree. Watch the pile of leaves grow bigger and bigger!
- South Walk – Just like Mooch and his bird friend, you and your kids can take an autumn walk. A fantastic way to see your neighborhood and make your journey more interesting is to do a coin walk. Coin walks work like this: you go to the end of your driveway and flip a coin. Heads is left, tails is right. Walk in that direction until you get to another intersection. Flip the coin again to see where you’re headed next. If you like, determine a number of coin tosses before the walk begins (i.e. – we’ll flip the coin five times and then come home), or simply
play it by ear – after all, there’s nothing like getting outside and enjoying the season!
- Animals in Winter – Talk to your child about the animals that live in your area. If you get wintry weather, talk about what the animals do when the snow flies. Some animals hibernate; others stay awake through the coldest months. To find out about a specific animal, take a trip to the library and check out some books. Try to figure out if there are things you and your family can do to make an animal’s winter easier (like putting out a birdfeeder or some nuts).
- Enjoy making a fall leaf craft together or labeling leaves you’ve collected on your walk like a scientist.
Even though fall is a busy time for many families, there’s always a spare moment or two for a good book! Happy reading!