Children are innately curious about the world around them, especially when those things are a little mysterious. Shadows satisfy both these requirements by being part of our life and by creating suspense. Is it a monster or a teddy bear shadow? Over the years we have collected a few exciting books about shadows, but never became intentional about putting a list together until we started The Science of Shadows unit study. The following books about shadows are great not only for those who intend to make an official study of it, but also just for fun. Here you will find captivating stories from the lands far away (Shadow by Marcia Brown), touching books (Papa Lucky’s Shadow), unique fairy tales (Shadow Story), and books that might appeal to kids who are afraid of the dark (In the dark, dark room). Take a peek…
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Shadow is a very imaginative look at shadows but may not be to everyone’s taste. Some kids will love it, while others may not. With my own children, my son said, “I love it! So spooky!”, while my daughter said, “I hate it! So scary!” The text of the story is a French poem La Féticheuse (The Witch Doctor) by novelist and poet Blaise Cendrars, who traveled through Africa listening to the stories of the village shamans told around the night fires.
The illustrations are very dark and eerie. The idea is that shadows are everywhere, like ghosts. There is a lot of figurative language and suspenseful imagery. For example, on a double spread with a dark blue background, there is an image of a black body sprawled on the ground and another ghost-like lighter form with x’s for eyes hovering over it with claw-like fingers. The text on this page: “On its nightly path it [shadow] often gets bumped, gets torn, trips again and again, and each time sprawls its full length on the ground. But it does not cry out, it has no voice.”
I like to introduce my kids to books that are different. This book has a unique message, very artistic illustrations, and teaches something about a culture that is new to us. Besides, being part of a unit study on Shadows, this book can be introduced as a lesson in personification (throughout the whole story, Shadow is its own character) and it offers a great introduction to African tribal culture.
On a Dark, Dark Night is one of those rhyming books that is an absolute delight to read over and over again. In the story, a little boy was just settling down for the night next to a volume of Spooky Stories when “a dark, dark shadow passed by his door.” He bravely jumped out of bed to investigate and… found out that even ten foot tall shadows have perfectly good explanations. This book is perfect for kids who are scared to sleep alone in a room. The illustrations are filled with humor that kids love. And I adore the staccato sounds of a pounding heart “boom-boom-boom” and clanking knees “knock, knock, knock.” It’s a great book!
My kids love stories where children outwit much larger opponents and if the book is as creative and eloquent as Nancy Willard’s book then it’s sure to be a hit. On The Night When Shadows Linger a little girl by the name of Holly Go Lolly is born. In place of a fairy godmother, the shadow of a fairy godmother shows up and blesses the baby with a strange gift – she will never be afraid of the dark. The mother is sore about such a useless blessing, but the father wisely notes that “you never know when a blessing will come in handy.” The family is so poor that Holly Go Lolly only has shadows on the wall to play with, and by the time she is fifteen years old she is so good at using her hands to make shadows that she can create anything, even animals that can spring, run and shuffle.
When the final hour comes and it’s Holly Go Lolly with her gift of making shadows against the big and fierce Ooboo, I bet you already know who will win. The illustrations, by Caldecott Winner David Diaz, are made in the form of drawings that resemble paper cutouts. The book is best for 5 years old and up. Of course, the only thing your kids will want to do as soon as you finish the book, is make shadows. Use this guide to inspire their own creations.
We first fell in love with Frank Asch’s style when we bought . So when my son saw the same bear on a cover of another book he wanted to check it out. We were not disappointed! In this story, Bear is annoyed that his shadow prevents him from catching a fish in the pond, so he decides to get rid of his shadow. He tries many creative ways from nailing his shadow to the lawn, to burying it in a hole. When Bear’s shadow finally starts to behave there is a good scientific explanation behind it which opens the door to a further discussion after the last page.
Some questions you may ask: What creates Moonbear’s shadow? Why does Moonbear’s shadow appear bigger and smaller during different time of the day? Why does Moonbear’s shadow disappears when he buries it? I consider this book the best introduction to science for little kids there is! After reading this book, take the kids outside on a sunny day and invite them to get rid of their shadow!
The most memorable books are the ones that evoke emotions and this book will have you grinning ear to ear. In the center of the story is a loving relationship between two people (grandpa Lucky and his little granddaughter Sugar) and their triumph in the face of adversity (even if the adversity is just a disapproving glance from the mom). In this story, Papa Lucky and Sugar take up tap dancing in the streets despite her mom’s objections. But guess who is won over when the duo dances a shadow dance in perfect harmony at the Pensioners’ Club Party?
The book teaches that when bad things happen (grandmother died) it’s OK to seek a creative outlet for pent-up feelings, (I started this blog when my father died) and that family ties are a wonderful thing. The illustrations by the author in watercolor and pencil are beautiful beyond words. There is a sense of flow and movement in every dance move and the color scheme is perfect for the story. Besides the concept of the shadow dance (when one dancer mimics exactly the movements of another dancer), there are lots of shadows to look for on each page. This book is excellent for kids 4-8 years old.