Exploring Dawn ’til Dusk

One of the nice things about summer is that the sun takes forever to set in the evening, creating tons of extra time for play and exploration. And by nice, I just want to be clear that I mean for the children who are champions of finding ways to stay up late.

In order to curtail some of my children’s evening energy so I can get them to bed at a semi-reasonable hour, my husband and I have taken to adding extra reading time to the end of our days. That means we need even more books to read, so here are a few new favourites that we’ve discovered. They all give us a chance to talk about the insects and animals we’ve seen throughout the day and the ones we hope to see soon. Maybe you and your children will like them too.

The first one is Blink and Glow by Raven Howell and illustrated by Ann Pilicer (Tielmour Press, 2024). In this beautifully illustrated story, two children, Leo and Lilly, are busy catching fireflies and bioluminescent salamanders as the stars shine above them. But as the creatures in their cages start to lose their glow, the children learn how to express their love in a better way. And, if you’re interested and feeling crafty (so maybe not if you read this right before bed) there is a craft at the end of the book, to help you and your children create your own fireflies to brighten your days. For ages 3 to 6.

- Advertisement -

Another delightful book for the littles is O is for Ocean by Greg Paprocki (Gibbs Smith, 2023). This alphabet board book will introduce your children to the wonders of the ocean around them, from anemone, to island, to zoanthids. Because the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, your children are going to love examining each and every page. Then, if you make it to a tide pool or an aquarium with a touch pool, they might even surprise you by recognizing all the plants and animals there. For ages 0 to 3.

If your ocean-lover is a bit older, they might enjoy Ocean by Gail Armstrong (Big Picture Press, 2024). Once again, the illustrations are stunning. The rich colours and the detailed paper creations that make up each page cannot be fully appreciated or examined in one sitting. And as your children flip through the pages and lift all the flaps, they will learn about the ocean depths, Mangrove forests, tidal pools and so much more. For ages 8 to 12.

If your children prefer to hunt for critters in the soil instead of the sea, they may like to look through Extremely Gross Animals: Stinky, Slimy and Strange Animal Adaptations by Claire Eamer (Kids Can Press, 2021). As the name of this book promises, it is filled with gross facts about animals. So, if your child isn’t squeamish and enjoys learning about the weird eating habits and digestive systems of insects and elephants, this book is for them. For ages 7 to 10.

Finally, after a day spent talking to other adults or repeating yourself for the seven millionth time to your children, you might find that you don’t want to talk at all. But you may still wish to cozy up on the couch or in their bed as you get ready for the night. If that’s the situation you find yourself in, you should check out The Last Zookeeper by Aaron Becker (Candlewick Press, 2024). This book has no words. It is told exclusively in illustrations. So, you can sit back and flip through the pages with your child as you witness a robot try to take care of animals after a flood that keeps getting worse, until the robot has to find a way to transport all of the animals somewhere new. For ages 5 to 9.

Perhaps you and your children will never encounter a glow-in-the-dark salamander, but I hope that these books help you connect with each other and the world around you as you learn about oceans, animals and the interconnected world we live in. And maybe, just maybe, after you close the final page, your kid will actually decide to go to sleep instead of asking for one more drink of water.

Christina Van Starkenberg
Christina Van Starkenberghttp://christinavanstarkenburg.com
Christina Van Starkenburg lives in Victoria with her husband, children, and cat. She is the author of One Tiny Turtle: A Story You Can Colour and many articles. To read more of her work and learn about her upcoming books, check out her website at www.christinavanstarkenburg.com.