Rise the Moon by Eileen Spinelli, with pictures by Raul Colon has become a fast favorite in our classroom. The children are drawn into the gentle and lyrical text, and love to spot the moon in each beautifully drawn image. Each passage contains a description of a familiar person or animal and their interaction with the moon. Amongst others, you’ll find a moth, an artist, a dancer, a baker, a sailor, a pack of wolves, and a mother with her baby. Though the images are rich enough to stand alone, the children request hearing the words again and again!
This particular book has so many of the wonderful qualities I look for when making selections for my class. I like to rotate our book offerings every other week or so. Each time I visit the library, I choose about eight new books based on several important characteristics. The books must first be worthy to look at on their own, that the children are not dependent upon an adult to assist them. I like to choose books based on seasonally appropriate or thematically familiar characteristics. In addition, I look for books that (are):
- well written
- thought provoking, but simple in context
- intellectually appealing to the toddler age
- culturally enriching, and reflective of diversity
- express relatable emotions
- rich (but limited) language
- avoids stereotypes (I sometimes take the liberty of changing a word here or there if the book fits all other points!)
- grounded in reality (no talking animals or the like)
Beyond these 10 points, I avoid “teaching” books; like the ones that focus on potty training, jealousy over a new baby or the ABC’s. These types of books tend to oversimplify the concepts they present, assuming the children need to have their thoughts and emotions “dummed down” to understand them. There are books that may discuss these ideas as part of life, or may happen to be organized by letters or numbers; and these are sometimes fine, as long as the central concept of the book is not to present an idea or way of thinking to the child. The best way we can offer children an understanding of the world is to put them directly in touch with it, and to be a constant model of expected behavior.
Eileen Spinelli’s Rise the Moon is one I will return to many times through the years, and I happily rate this selection a 9.5 out of 10!