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Picture Book Activity Blog w/PBS KIDS

As summer winds down to a close and the cold weather comes creeping in, a few new picture books give us the warm reminder that we can always transport ourselves to somewhere greener through our imagination and a finely illustrated and well-written book.  New to the Library this month are seven titles that stand out for not only being beautiful depictions of nature, but also for illustrating the interconnection between all living things.  PBS Learning Media activities have been paired with each picture book to extend learning to home, your backyard, and your neighborhood.


by Deborah Kerble

Whirlers, helicopters- did you have a name for maple seeds when you were a child? The way they spin as they fall freely through the air is a sure sign that the warm season is in full swing.  Follow the life-cycle of a maple seed as it falls from the tree, and travels about before being planted in this beautiful wordless picture book from Deborah Kerble.  The gentle illustrations are bound together with a thread of wind that entwines each of the pages as you create the dialogue with your imagination. A back page of maple seed facts inspires young explorers to conduct their own experiments with seeds. 

Curious about the way seeds travel?  Explore with this video Seeds on the Move with Meghan from Growing Great, and compare the shapes and sizes of seeds and how this might affect how they move.  Next play Seed Racer from Plum Landing and help an extraterrestrial collect and plant seeds on the mountain to help keep the ecosystem healthy.  The game is interspersed with facts about seeds, so have fun playing while learning!

A Dream for Every Season

by Haddy Njie and Lisa Aisato

Whimsical and dreamlike illustrations personify nature in this poetic exploration of the seasons and the feelings and moments each provides.  Translated from Norwegian, the adult directed text is more likely to appeal to an older audience, but images of children being blanketed in fields of dandelions and wildflowers, and hair growing lush with flowers, leaves and butterflies will appeal to all ages.  

After reading this book make sure to check out this video Let’s Share a Story as host Shana Davis reads, Skip through the Seasons. And everything you have ever wanted to know about the seasons, you can find in this collection, Changing Seasons.  The lessons have been co-designed by museum and educational partners and feature many of your favorite PBS KIDS friends both in English and Spanish.

This is the Tree We Planted

by Kate McMullan

Written in the style of “This is the House that Jack Built” this cumulative tale illustrates the planting and growth of a tree and all the critters that inhabit it, showing how all life is interconnected. The text provides an opportunity to introduce a variety of new critters to your child, helping to build their background knowledge and vocabulary, as the illustrations stay true to life.  Encourage a love for nature and a drive to look closer at the world around you in your own backyard,  in this new picture book by the author of “I’m Brave”,  “I’m Smart”, and “I Stink”. 

This simple action song, I’m a Tree by Mister Chris and Friends, encourages you to grow into a tree and would be wonderful to include in your home or classroom routine. I know I will try it out at Preschool storytime for sure!  And a great video clip from PBS Young Explorers Planting Trees shows how two children plant a tree with the help of a naturalist.  They learn how deep and wide to dig the hole, and also how to keep it healthy and protected as it grows.  What creatures do you think will live in the tree they planted together?

Wild Beings

by Dorien Brouwers

Dynamic watercolor illustrations bring the spirits of animals and children together in celebration of our universal and unbreakable bond with nature.  Each page cleverly integrates and intertwines human presence into the world of animals through silhouettes, handprints, and footprints. With socio-emotional themes woven throughout,  Dorien Brouwers leads us on a transformative journey through the wilderness to find our voice.

Animal and human tracks are integrated throughout the book.  Make tracks of your own by following the instructions in this activity from Nature Cat Making Tracks, and next time you are exploring compare your tracks to the animals around you.  PBS has compiled short videos about an animal for each letter of the alphabet.  By searching Animal Alphabet, you will find them as you scroll through the results.  Learn about what makes each animal unique, their diet, and where they live. What did you already know about the animal? What new information did you learn?

A Perfect Spot

by Isabelle Simler

On a beautiful spring day, a ladybird searches for the right place to lay her eggs. She looks and looks, but everywhere she lands is already taken by other creepy crawlies. Can she find the perfect spot?

Acclaimed creator Isabelle Simler presents a bug’s-eye view of camouflage, metamorphosis, and other natural wonders as she chronicles a ladybird’s stunning journey across a beautiful natural landscape filled with incredible creatures.
Explore more about ladybugs by watching this QUEST video segment, Ladybug Pajama Party which explains the behavior of a ladybug species that spends most of its year feeding on the California coast and migrates inland for the winter. Children will learn what makes an insect an insect, and separate from creatures like spiders or millipedes in this video Insects by Nature Wyoming.  And have more fun learning through music with this song, Bugs Song, by Sesame Street.

Days Like This

by Oriane Smith and Alice Gravier

An average day can be just that: average. But it can also be extraordinary and full of surprises, if we’re mindful of the world around us. In Days Like This, we witness the peaks and valleys of everyday life through two different narrative voices. The tiniest detail or the most fleeting moment can look quite different, depending on your perspective!  

After reading this book, you can take a field trip in your own backyard. Who shares that space with you? What do they eat? Where do they live? Backyard Wildlife, an original KET video, introduces children to animals they might find just outside the back door or in a nearby park.  

And if you are especially curious about squirrels, one of the two main protagonists in Days Like This, watch this short video Squirrel from Camp TV, where you can learn a lot about these common backyard creatures.  

Sun Wishes

by Patricia Storms and Milan Pavlovic

Companion to the book Moon Wishes, Sun Wishes is a visual treat with poetic text that guides you through the journey of the sun as it moves across the sky, and over the earth, lighting up our gloomiest days, celebrating harvests, and delighting in the diversity of life around the world.  It’s hard not to judge a picture book by its cover, and if you did this time, “Sun Wishes” would receive top marks; the vibrant watercolor illustrations keep your attention page after page.  This is certainly one of those books that is as appealing for the adult reading it as the child listening. 

This song, Sunset Lullaby by Mister Chris and Friends, embodies the pleasant and soothing energy that this book emits.  If you are curious and want to learn more about the sun, children watch this episode clip from NASA’s Our World or this video What Do You Know About the Sun? From the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, where kids share what they know about the sun and visit an observatory.  


Youth Services Librarian at Mead Public Library