The theme for this week in Picture Book Preschool is rain, and the character trait to be emphasized is independence. Umbrella by Taro Yashima is a good book for thinking about both of these themes. Momo, the little girl in the story, gets an umbrella and a pair of red rubber boots for her third birthday. She is so anxious to use her new umbrella that she asks her mother every day why the rain doesn’t fall. She even tries to talk her mother into letting her use the umbrella and boots to keep the sun out of her eyes, but she is admonished to wait and keep the umbrella for a rainy day. Finally the rainy day comes, and Momo has an exciting walk to and from nursery school in the rain with her new umbrella, a walk in which she grows up just a little without even realizing it.
I love this gentle story, and so do my little girls. It speaks to so many preschool concerns: growing up and acting grown-up, the difficulty of waiting for good things to happen, the excitement and joy of experiencing those long-awaited pleasures. The watercolor illustrations also by Yashima include various Japanese characters for nouns used in the story.
Possible activities to complement the reading of Umbrella:
Did you know that you can get a cheap umbrella at the dollar store? At least, out dollar store has them. What a wonderful gift for a three or four year old.
Talk about the letter “U” and how it’s shaped like an upside down umbrella.
Try to copy the Japanese characters in the book using watercolor paints and brushes.
Draw or paint rain pictures.
Talk about the weather and about the different kinds of clothing needed for each kind of weather.
Make a rain storm with your feet. Start out patting your feet softly and slowly, then faster and harder, then slow down again. Does it sound like rain?
Go walking in the rain, with an umbrella, of course.
Picture Book Preschool is a preschool/kindergarten curriculum which consists of a list of picture books to read aloud for each week of the year and a character trait, a memory verse, and activities, all tied to the theme for the week. Click on the link in the sidebar if you are interested in purchasing a copy of the preschool curriculum, Picture Book Preschool by Sherry Early.