Leave the windows open for the bats

This was a Halloween present, and rightfully so, as the characters are bats, who are unfortunately mostly appreciated by the general populice only around the end of October as only as decorative designs. (Although, I think their rep is growing as people hang more bat houses to get rid of mosquitoes.)

But I love a book that uses a usually overlooked animal as its hero.  And Bats at the Library does just that.

Title: Bats at the Library
Author/Illustrator: Brian Lies
Genre
: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7

Summary and Review:

It’s nighttime, and the bats have eaten and played.  They find they are, well, slightly bored.  But then a rumor spreads–a window has been left open at the library, so the fun is just about to begin!  There is storytime, shaddow puppets with the overhead projector, water play in the drinking fountain, illicit use of the copy machine, and imaginations running wild when the bats enter the magical world of storybooks.  It’s just about the best time at the library anyone could imagine, and the illustrations that accompany the story are fun and gorgeous–and, because this is a nocturnal story, darker and different from other picture book you may be more used to reading.

Brian Lies has a newer book out, too, Bats at the Ballgame, which you can preview here, and which I cannot wait to buy, as it has always been a goal of mine (and my toddler’s) to own every baseball book possible, and it is a newer goal of mine to own more of Brian Lies’s Bat books!  (There’s another one I haven’t seen about the beach as well.)

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

Well, for starters, you might have to explain what an overhead projector is.  Even to the older ones.  Maybe especially to the older ones–younger ones are used to technology they haven’t seen before.

OBSERVATION SKILLS!

The is a great book for learning how to notice detail in the illustrations.  What are the bats doing in each of the pictures?  Why do they hang upside down?  Why are the pictures so dark?  What kinds of books are the bats reading?  What kinds of games are the playing?  Ask your child to get involved with the pictures–not to merely glance at them, but to truly appreciate them and learn to be observant.  That’s the first thing their first science teacher is going to teach them, and it’s an important skill whether they grow up to be an ecologist, a photojournalist, or just an empathetic human being.  So teach them to really look, to watch, to make observations about the pictures and let you know what they are learning.

IMAGINATION

Ask them what they might do at the library if they were there all night long with no adults.  Or maybe ask them what they would do at the library if they were five inches tall.  Encourage your kids to think outside the comfort zone of normal ideas and really engage their imaginative muscle.  Like observation skills, the imagination is really good for future schooling, too.  And for being empathetic.  And painting.  And, unfortunately, probably useful in today’s journalism culture as well.

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