As the cold winds blow this January, I’ll be knitting an afghan. As the afghan grows on my lap, it keeps me warm and comfortable when the temperature outside is freezing. I think that’s the perfect project for a long winter night, but knitting is far from the only way to spend a cold evening.
Here are some books that offer great ideas for passing the time cooking, building, exercising and, yes, even knitting, when you and the kids are stuck inside because of the cold weather.
KID YOGA: FUN WITH A TWIST, by Juliet Pegrum, Sterling, $14.95; ages 6-14.
Yoga has become a popular activity for children and adults to exercise both the body and the mind. Using pictures and working with children, Juliet Pegrum demonstrates various yoga positions, called poses, and suggests sample workouts. The book includes poses for children ages 3 to 6 and another group for those ages 7 to 11. She includes a list of the benefits offered by each. For example, the thunderbolt pose is good for flexibility in the spine while the butterfly pose helps increase mobility in the hip joints. The book includes a handy index that makes it easy to quickly find positions. While the book is aimed at and written for kids, it is clearly a resource that would work well for adults, too. So grab this book, limber up and spend some time getting fit together.
MEGA MOTORS: HEAVY DUTY DUMP TRUCK, CONSTRUCT YOUR OWN DUMP TRUCK! by Shaheen Bilgrami, Running Press, $19.95; ages 8 and up.
This book has everything you need to fill a cold winter evening with a fun project. It includes a motor, wheels and all the sturdy cardboard pieces you need to put together a neat dump truck. All you have to add are the batteries. This project book offers a good opportunity to talk about the importance of being able to read and follow instructions—in addition to some much-needed companionship on a cold winter evening. Once the project is done, spend some time reading the enclosed booklet together. It’s filled with good information about trucks.
REDWALL COOKBOOK, by Brian Jacques, illustrated by Christopher Denise, Philomel, $24.99; ages 9 and up.
The first Redwall book was published in 1987. The 18th book in the series, which chronicles the lives of a group of animals who live in the Abbey, grow their own vegetables and cook their own food, was released in September. Now, in this new cookbook, Brian Jacques gives us the recipes the animals use so kids can prepare those same dishes in their own kitchen. The book is divided into four sections, offering dishes to prepare for each season of the year. Best of all, Jacques has written a story to accompany each season. The recipe for Bean Soup with Parsley Dumplings sounds like a great meal for a cold winter evening. I got hungry reading the recipes, especially the delicious-sounding desserts. Check the Web site, www.redwall.org, for more information, including crossword puzzles.
NANCY DREW COOKBOOK: CLUES TO GOOD COOKING, by Carolyn G. Keene, Grosset & Dunlap, $9.99; ages 9 and up.
I certainly hope I’m not alone in continuing to read and enjoy the Nancy Drew mystery books. The first book, Secret of the Old Clock, was published in 1930, before I was born. I read one of the books in the new series recently to see how they have been modernized. Nancy’s roadster has been replaced with an SUV, she has her cell phone with her at all times and she uses a computer—none of which were available back then. This new cookbook is stocked with recipes named for the titles and characters from many of the older stories, such as Shadow Ranch Barbequed Beans and Hidden Staircase Biscuits. There are suggestions and directions to help both the young chef and the adult helper. There are sections with recipes for holidays along with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each page has a hint on how to add something to make it extra special such as changing a flavoring or sprinkling bacon crumbs on top.
KIDS’ GUIDE TO DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY: HOW TO SHOOT, SAVE, PLAY WITH & PRINT YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS, by Jenni Bidner, Lark Books, $14.95; ages 9 and up.
As the title suggests, this book not only helps you learn how to take pictures, it’s also full of ideas about how to make changes and play with the photos before printing them. Jenni Bidner also includes a section for using photo-editing software. The best part of using a digital camera is you can take as many pictures as you want and then print the best ones, either for your own scrapbook or for giving or e-mailing to your friends and family. The emphasis of the book is to have fun with photography while learning and improving.
KNIT NOW (PRETTY SIMPLE STUFF), by Megan E. Bryant, illustrated by Linda Karl, photography by David Mager, Price Stern Sloan, $12.99; ages 8 and up.
Knitting has become a popular craft for all ages during the past few years. This book comes with a set of knitting needles and some yarn to practice with, although the yarn is too lightweight for a beginner. If I were giving the lesson, I would use a heavier, worsted weight yarn because it would be easier for a first-time knitter to manage. The detailed and illustrated instructions are easy to follow. Start with a simple project such as a scarf. Holders for iPods and cell phones are also easy, and the book includes instructions for adding a buttonhole—which is not hard.
There are many new yarns available. When I go yarn shopping, I find it hard to decide which to buy. Most of the yarn companies have Web sites (such as www.lionbrand.com and www.coatsandclark.com) that offer free patterns. You most likely will find a knitting store somewhere in your neighborhood. The people who run the shop will be happy to give you a little help. Unless, of course, you are lucky enough to have a grandma available.
Judy Belanger is a retired elementary learning resource center teacher who lives with her husband in Addison. They have two grown children and four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6 in the school where she taught.