“Make Stuff” from illustrator Melissa Sweet’s website

There is a freedom with the end of school for parents as well as teachers. No wonder a mom’s blog, “Worst End of School Year Mom Ever,”  struck a cord with so many parents! I find that after parents breathe that sigh of relief, it’s  not too long before they are setting up some routine to keep their kids reading over the summer.

In this blog I want to address reading TO young children, continuing to engage them in great stories so they develop a love for books and reading. Many local libraries have special sections set up with recommended books by grade level, including preschool which I find to be great lists with lots of variety. Reading picture books is great but why not expand on the book since summer affords a little more time for relaxed learning?

I received a new book by one of my favorite illustrators, Melissa Sweet (Spike the Mixed -Up Monster) which drew me to her website. Under “Make Stuff,” she lists 12 books she has illustrated with games, puppets and activities to do as followup to her books. Balloons Over Broadway, The True Story of The Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade,  “tells the amazing story of Tony Sarg, the incredible puppeteer and marionette master who created the first Macy’s larger-than-life parade balloons in 1928. ‘With a marionette, the controls are above and the puppet hangs down, but what if the controls were below and the puppet could rise up?’ Tony thought. And everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving tradition was born!” The illustrator’s activity kit includes the plans to make a lion, puppy and dragon paddle puppet, as well as finger puppets and a special box to store them! What could be more fun than listening to a story about puppets and then making your own to create a show? For parents who want to go deeper with older children there is an educator’s guide which goes into depth about further research about the artist, puppets and storytelling, the people behind the puppets and puppetry across cultures.