Picture Book Pair for a Fun Fall Story Time

by Rebecca J. Gomez Pairing two or more picture books with similar themes can open up a world of discussion possibilities, and those discussions are great ways to connect with your children or students. It can be fascinating to see how different authors and illustrators approach different topics and themes. Pairing books with similar themes during story time will help children learn that everyone sees the world a little differently, and it's good to see other people's perspectives. Read : Leaves by David Ezra Stein and The Leaf Thief by Alice Hemming, illustrated by Nicola Slater Discuss :  What is the main theme in each of these stories? How are these two books different? How are they similar? What were Bear and Squirrel both confused about?  Have you ever been confused or curious about something in nature? Talk about it! What is fall like where you live? Do you see leaves changing, then falling from the trees?  What other books about fall or leaves have you read? Are any of

Making Fiction (almost) Real: How Beloved Stories Become Part of Our Lives

by Rebecca J. Gomez

Years ago my family went to an exhibit that featured props, costumes, and other items from the movie adaptations of The Chronicles of Narnia. It was a fascinating exhibit that gave us a bit of a behind the scenes look at the making of the movies. There were also items that belonged to C.S. Lewis himself! I think everyone's favorite part of the exhibit was walking from "Spare Oom" and into the wardrobe, which transitioned from coats to snow-covered trees until, suddenly, we were in Narnia, trapped in the cold of a hundred-year winter. Well, a display of the wintry movie items, anyway. It was a magical experience, and for a moment we could almost believe that we had been transported to a different world.

There is something powerful about well-loved stories. The settings appeal to us. The conflicts engage us. The characters are relatable. They get us talking, laughing, debating. We start to see ourselves or the people we love in the characters. We may even wish we could be transported into them, like the characters in Inkheart.

We know we can't live in our favorite books. No matter how we may secretly long for it, we know that we will never happen upon a wardrobe that leads to Narnia. Not literally. We will never visit the Shire, or discover that our bedroom walls have suddenly became the world all around. 

And so, instead of merely reading them and talking about them, we invite bits of these beloved stories into our world so they can almost feel real. 

It's why I can't resist walking between snow-covered pines. Why we have a Hobbit-themed feast every year in September. Why my daughters recently celebrated their first ever "Hogsmeade Day" by spending a day making treats inspired by the Harry Potter books.

And Halloween, of course, is another opportunity to pull our favorite stories and characters off of the page and into the real world for a little while. 

Costumes and "trunk-or-treat" decorations have often been inspired by stories we've read. My kids' literary costumes have included elves, an orc, a Hogwarts student, Little Red Riding Hood, Dorothy, and even an attempt at a balrog from The Fellowship of the Ring. And last year, my grandson was a hobbit for his first ever Halloween. His costume went perfectly with my trunk-or-treat set up: Shelob's cave from The Return of the King (the giant spider only scared a couple children).

Even outside of Halloween and hobbit feasts, the books my family has shared together have given us so much more than great stories. They've fostered thoughtful discussions, inspired family fun, and helped us relate to each other in so many ways. My hope is that books do the same for your family.

What about you? What stories have become part of your life?

Shelob's cave

Little Hobbit

Where the Wild Things Are trunk-or-treat


Mindy Baker said…
Great post! I love costumes, too! Especially if they are related to a book!
Rebecca Gomez said…
Thank you, Mindy! Literary costumes really are the best!