Friday, August 21, 2015

Goodnight Songs: A Celebration of the Seasons - a new book by Margaret Wise Brown

Goodnight Songs: A Celebration of Seasons
Goodnight Songs: A Celebration of the Seasons
By Margaret Wise Brown
Published by Sterling Children's Books

When I think of Margaret Wise Brown, her infamous book Goodnight Moon will always come to mind.  It's one of the first books I used in my first job, teaching at-risk preschool students. The calm phrases, the easy to memorize words, the way the book always makes you feel everything is ok.  It's also one of the first books I ever read to my newborn daughter.  Holding her in my arms and reading Brown's words, just made everything peaceful.

Brown, of course, has written many other books, books that are tried and true in classrooms and libraries everywhere.  The Important Book, The Runaway Bunny are books introduced to so many readers.  I remember reading Big Red Barn during a farm unit and giving The Golden Egg Book to my nieces for an Easter present.  I've always enjoyed reading Brown's words.  But little did I know that Brown had such a passion for lyrics and poetry.  In 2014, a collection of songs was published called Goodnight Songs.  This collection of song lyrics and poems were accompanied by beautiful illustrations drawn by award winning illustrators and a CD with the lyrics put to song.

Now, a second book has been published by Sterling Children's Books, this time, each song revolves around the seasons.  A Celebration of the Seasons was published on August 4th, with new illustrators and songs.  This gorgeous collection of words, illustrations and music celebrate the changing of the seasons and nature.  With illustrations by Molly Idle, Peter Brown, Elly MacKay and Floyd Cooper, this collection is a feast for the eyes and ears.  Each illustration is as stunning as the one before it.

The song lyrics can be used for music or as poems.  Brown had such a gift with words, and her talent is evident within this book.  Each poem is different stylistically and it matches the idea of the poem.  Some are fun and silly and told in rhyme.  Others are reflective and quiet and told in beautiful free verse.

The music of Tom Proutt and Emily Gary is timeless.  I love the influence of jazz, country and bluegrass in some of the songs.  The CD is a perfect addition for a car ride or time at home.  I think the power of music in assisting children with early reading skills is something that can be neglected at early ages.  Young children need to hear rhymes and ways that words work together, long before they see the printed word.  The only suggestion I would have for the publisher is to include a link to download the music.  I think CD players are being phased out more and more - many cars no longer have them!  A downloadable link would offer additional listening options.

This book will make a wonderful newborn baby gift.  It is a book that could be read and shared for many years.  With the accompaniment of music, the songs could be listened to through the preschool years.

This would also be a wonderful book for a PreK-Kg classroom.  Poetry and music made wonderful pre-reading activities.  By following along with the words with the music, students will fall in love with words in a playful and meaningful activity.

I'm hoping to share some of the poems with 1st-2nd grade classrooms this year.  This really is a collection you can use year round!

Check out Goodnight Songs: A Celebration of the Seasons by Margaret Wise Brown and consider adding it to your classroom or library!

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