Wind in Children's Books

cover art

First of all, you must feel the wind. If a windy day doesn't happen naturally and conveniently in your area, create your own wind tunnel, hold out your arms, lift up your face and feel it. Put words to your feelings and describe them to each other.

Start making lists of wind words: gust, breeze, blast and the like. Include words to describe the wind as well: gentle, blustery, refreshing.

Then, take a look. Watch trees, birds, and clouds in the wind. Hang some clothes on the line and watch the effect of wind on those clothes. Use watercolors and big brushes on large paper to record your observations.

Sail some kites. It's amazing how many kids have never held on to the string of a kite sailing high overhead. If the kids get really into it, a good science unit on the aerodynamics involved can be approached this way. You'd better find the sheet music for "Let's Go Fly a Kite" from Mary Poppins.

Take a look at how the masters did it. Look for photographs showing the wind at work and play. Find and display some paintings by such artists as Winslow Homer. On line you can view Van Gogh's depiction of a windy day at:
http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/gogh/fields/gogh.threatening-skies.jpg

A lesser-known but effective painting by Scoppettone, "Windy Day Paris" is at:
http://www.scoppettone.com/gallery/view.php?file=windydayparis.jpg&
name=Windy+Day+Paris&size=16%22+x+20%22&medium=Oil+on+Canvas
.

Explore the internet together for other windy images.

painting

More Paintings include:

Bring on the music. Find some good storm music such as selections from Scherazade and the Valkyries. Encourage kids to paint or move to the music. It now may be time to turn to the words. Many, many poems for children use wind as their subject. Find as many as possible and, after allowing lots of preparation time, take turns sharing your favorite lines and verses. My favorites include Christina Rossetti's "Wind" available at http://alt.venus.co.uk/weed/writings/poems/cgrtw.htm Don't forget Robert Louis Stevenson's "Windy Nights."

Try putting the images together, art and poetry. You may not be able to find whole poems that match with the artwork, but you'll surely be able to match single lines. Explain your choices.

Turn to the books now and read aloud some descriptions of the wind such as that first scene in Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time (Farrar, 1990 ISBN 0374386137. Order Info.). Read Gary Paulsen's description of the wind in his book Caught by the Sea (Delacorte, 2001 ISBN 0385326459. Order Info.)

You might want to look at books and stories that deal with wind as a character such as "At the Back of the North Wind" and "Mother West Wind Stories" by Thornton Burgess.

It's an easy step from there into expressions about the wind. Don't forget the one about the ill wind blowing and the one about getting the wind at your back. Look what the wind blew in this time.

Next turn to the picture books that put images and words of the wind together. You might start with Jane Yolen and Ed Young's The Girl Who Loved the Wind (HarperCollins, 1972 ISBN 006443088X. Order Info.). The concept of protecting someone from the wind, of the wind as a news-bringer is worth talking about at many age levels. Kathryn Lasky and Janet Stevens' picture book The Gates of the Wind (Harcourt, 1995 ISBN 0152042644, currently out of print but ask for it at your library) offers another female who relates to the wind.

Pat Hutchins' delightful picture book The Wind Blew is pictured at the top of this article. Betsy James' Blow Away Soon which has a lovely legend about the wind is out of print but we highly recommend you ask your local librarian about it.

Bill Martin Jr. and Barry Root's Old Devil Wind (Harcourt, 1971 ISBN 0152013848. Order Info.) begs to be read aloud and chanted together.

The tall tale by Carol Purdy and Steven Kellogg Iva Dunnit and the Big Wind (Dial, 1984 ISBN 0803701837. Order Info.) together with James Stevenson's The Sea View Hotel (HarperCollins, 1992 ISBN 0064434060. Order Info.) should open the door for a whole lot of windy tall tales. How windy was it? It was so windy that….

See you next month when the wind lets up a bit.

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