December 21 – National Flashlight Day

Happy Flashlight Day!

National Flashlight Day corresponds with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.

Earlier this month I reviewed a beautiful new picture book.

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You can read the full discussion HERE.

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The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice written by Wendy Pfeffer and illustrated by Jesse Reisch (2003)

This book covers a lot of information about the shortest day of the year, both historically and scientifically. Children will see what happens in the northern hemisphere as the earth tilts away from the sun and days become colder and darker.  There is also information about some of the festivals surrounding this day from early Inca and Chinese astronomers. There is also discussion of early Roman and European celebrations including Druid festivals and St. Lucia’s Day in Sweden. At the end of the book, there are scientific facts about the earth’s movement around the sun, the winter and spring solstice and equinox. There are also fun activities for kids to try on their own, including measuring shadows and making cupcakes or bird feeders.

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The Winter Solstice written by Ellen Jackson and illustrated by Jan Davey Ellis (1994)

This is another picture book which explains the change of the seasons to young readers. It starts with cultural differences in the ways different people around the world thought about the loss of daylight in winter, everything from evil spirits to sacrifices for a brighter future. There are discussions about Stonehedge in England, ancient Roman celebrations, the Norse Yuletide festival, Peruvian rites, and Native American ceremonies of the Hopi and other Pueblo people. There are also discussions about how many of these ancient traditions are incorporated into modern celebrations. Traditions like feasting, gift-giving, the lighting of candles, and using evergreens to decorate remain even though people today understand the changing astronomical positions of the earth and sun in the sky, and no longer fear evil spirits. Today like ancient times, these celebrations are reasons for joy, hope, and goodwill.

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And if you’d like to have a little fun and pick up a copy of the Caldecott Medal Winner, Owl Moon.  Check out the full moon schedule in your area, grab a flashlight, and go owling with someone you love this winter.

Happy Flashlight Day!

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Owl Moon written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr (1987)

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