Candles' burning bright to light up the darkest nights- many cultures include the lighting of candles as part of their winter celebrations when the days are short, cold, and clouds obscure the sun, moon, and stars. The flames kindle memory of warmer days and with our loved ones draw us close to it to savor the warmth of its light. The flames, also, ignite wonder in us. Here are several books about light to help keep that wonder and magic alive while answering children's questions about light and the seasons.
Day Light, Night Light: Where Light Comes From by Frankly M. Branley and Stacey Schuett provides children with the basic science of light and where it comes from- heat! This enjoyable read is just perfect for children under age 8. After reading this book extend your child's learning by letting them play with flashlights. Put the flashlights behind all sorts of things to see if the light can penetrate. Ask your child to predict what will happen, and hypothesize about why the light can or cannot penetrate an object.
How Raven Stole the Sun by Maria Williams and Felix Vigil- How light and day were created are some of the most basic questions humans ask themselves and many cultures around the world came up with their own stories for how this happened. This story from the Tlingit culture tells how mischievous raven helped humankind by bringing the stars, moon, and sun to the sky. If your culture has a story of how light came into the world share that. You can, also, make up your own myth about the creation of light.
Light is All Around Us (Let's Read and Find Out Science 2) by Wendy Pfeffer and Paul Meisel is another one in the excellent "Let's Read and Find Out Science" book series. Sharing more about the science of light, your child will enjoy this book. This book includes animals that create light. Have your child create more creatures that can make light and draw pictures of those creations.
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen and Rachel Isadora tells of a young girl living in the 18th century who must sell matches to support herself and her father. We read this book every year on Christmas Eve, although it really takes place on New Year's Eve. While a very sad tale (she dies at the end), it is a tale of hope triumphing over despair. Just be careful when reading it because part of our tradition includes me sobbing at the end! Talk with your child about all they have to be thankful for and how many, many others have much less. Consider donating to a charity or volunteering your time with your child to help those less fortunate.
On A Beam of Light: The Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and Vladimir Radunsky- A brilliant book that makes Einstein's work relatable even for young children. Telling the story of Albert from his birth to his death including his struggles in school, this story will inspire young children to dream and wonder. It will be particularly poignant for the child who struggles in school. If the clouds break, step outside to look at the moon and the stars and talk about how far starlight travels to get to us. and how even those who struggle can go on to do great things.
One Candle by Eve Bunting shares the story of a family's Hannukah celebrations and history, including their struggle through the Holocaust. Young children will be able to relate to the pain of that time while honoring the incredible courage and resilience of those who lived through the Holocaust. Talk about how humans in even the most difficult times can find happiness and show courage.
The Sun by Seymour Simon teaches children the science of the sun. The short text and wonderful photographs engage children of various ages and make science fun! Have your child create a story about the sun, and talk about all the ways the sun helps support life on earth.Seven Candles for Kwanzaa by Andrea Davis Pinkney shares the history, meaning, and rituals of Kwanzaa, including the meaning of the seven candles that are lit. Talk about your own family history and rituals for the holidays you celebrate and how they are similar or different from others.
Sunshine Makes the Seasons (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Franklyn M. Branley and Michael Rex explores how the rotation of the earth around the sun creates the seasons. Perfect for explaining what makes winter so cold and the days so short. If you have a globe, use a flashlight to shine on one side of it to demonstrate day and night, and bring it closer and further away to help demonstrate the seasons.
I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have finding them! As always, feel free to share with credit to Words Reflected and Kim Bogren Owen on Facebook, your website, or in your newsletter. Please add your recommendations for additional books about the light in the comments.