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Children’s Summer reading basket

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Our Summer reading basket is full of beautiful books to complement the season and the Australian landscape.

Summer for us is usually bright blue skies, long grasses washed to a yellow-white colour and a blazing sun. And although we have had some soaringly hot days this year (up into the 40s), we’ve also enjoyed wonderful storms bringing cooling relief, with weeks of more gentle temperatures (in the early 20s).

My children love exploring our reading basket each time it is changed. The books I make available follow the seasons and festivals of the year, helping us maintain a rhythm to our days.

Books in our Summer reading basket

Rules of Summer

by Shaun Tan

A new book for Max, about the rules children make up for their games through Summer. An intriguing book to spark the imagination, filled with illustrations of Summer landscapes.

Max is really rather taken with this story and with puzzling out the rules!

All Through the Year
by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker

Follow an Australian family through their year. Long days in January at the beach, cooling air in March as the leaves turn colour, and the shortest day and longest night in June. This book relates the seasons to our part of the world with whimsical illustrations and a lovely rhythm.

A lovely story that could be added to any seasonal reading basket.

A Year On Our Farm
by Penny Matthews and Andrew McLean

Nature and the seasons are explored through an Australian family’s life on a farm is this lovely story. With little bits of humour to capture the imagination.

This is one of Max’ favourite stories, and again could be added to any seasonal reading basket.

Today we have No Plans
by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker

A book that takes us through what can be a busy family week, ending with a wonderfully amazing day in which there are no plans!

To us, Summer is like a day with no plans ~ as it stretches on, people are more relaxed and days less structured.

Pip the Gnome
by Admar Kwant

This simple board book takes us through the seasons with Pip the Gnome. We meet his friends the robin in Summer and a wren in Winter. This book is not based in Australia, but translates well because it does not anchor the seasons to the months of the Northern Hemisphere.

It is one of Ruby’s favourites, and a good bedtime read.

Two Summers
by John Heffernan and Freya Blackwood

This story contrasts two Summers on the farm, when a friend, Rick visits. One year they play in the dam and help with the animals. The following Summer there is a drought and things are tough.

Many parts of Australia are in drought and this story nicely illustrates the impact.

Many of these enjoyable books were recommended by my friend Jackie from My Little Bookcase. I find it rather hard to resist the books she recommends! Pop on over to see for yourself *grin*

What books do you have in your Summer reading basket?

Happy reading,

Waldorf festivals in Australia

waldorf festivals 2


Many Waldorf resources and blogs have a Northern Hemisphere focus…
So I was thrilled when my lovely friend Andrea 
offered to share how Waldorf festivals can be celebrated in the Southern Hemisphere

Something that I really struggled with when I first began to consider the Waldorf/Steiner educational philosophy for our family was the Seasonal Festivals and the fact that as the Waldorf philosophy is primarily situated in the Northern Hemisphere, it can be difficult to translate the festivals across to the Southern Hemisphere. After much reading and thinking, I think I have finally figured it out and am sharing it for the future reference of all Steiner parents who may want to keep these things in mind. The cycle of the yearly Calendar of Festivals begins with the Celtic New Year in May:

May 1 – Samhain

This is often represented by pumpkins and apples, harvest time and the changing colour of the Autumn leaves. Recognising the cycle of life and death in nature, it is a time for reflection and meditation on the ancestral spirits which guide us. Samhain is the festival of the dead, and signifies the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.

June 21 – Yule

While we often associate Yule with Christmas, in the festival calendar is represents the Winter solstice – or the day with the shortest sunlight hours. It has been described as the time that the child of the sun is reborn – as after the Winter solstice the days begin to grow longer again. Even more reason for Christmas in July – or June as it may be.

August 1 – Candlemas

A celebration of the new, rising light of the approaching Spring. Another description of this festival is called Imbolc – which means “in the belly” – symbolising the seeds, still covered by the earth, awaiting their rebirth in the Spring. It is a time of anticipation, holding the colours – Red (Energy), White (Beginnings) and Yellow (Sun).

September 21 – Ostara (Easter)

Spring! The celebration of new life and all of the hope and joy that it brings. Ostara is the goddess of fertility and this festival falls during Easter in the Northern Hemisphere – thus the reason why eggs are often used to represent the festival. Greens, pinks, white, yellow – anything that represents new life and the increasing warmth of the day.

November 1 – Beltane

It is Spring Fair time with dancing round the Maypole and all the joy of the beginning of Summer. This festival of fertility and marriage is often associated in folklore with covens of naked women dancing in the forest, conjuring witchcraft. This is a time for celebration.

December 21 – Summer Solstice (Litha)

This is the time that many in the Southern Hemisphere celebrate Christmas. The day of the year with the longest light, celebration is called for as food and good times are plentiful!

February 2 – Lammas

Thanksgiving for the bounty of the earth, traditionally a time when the wheat (and other grains) were harvested as the sun god has transferred his strength to the grain and will be resurrected again next Spring. Celebrate with the colours of the grains, oranges, golden yellows – items that are full of the warmth of the sun.

March 21 – Mabon (Michaelmas)

A time of equal day and night – it is a time when nature is considered to be in balance. Honoring the presence in the air of Winters approach, it is a time to be thankful for the plentiful harvest of the preceding year and to look upon the coming darkness with revere. Rudolf Steiner considered Michaelmas to be the second most important of festivals after Easter.

So there you have it! Now when you hear that they are having a festival at your local Steiner school, you will have a bit more of an understanding of how if fits into the Seasonal Calendar of the Southern Hemisphere.

You might also like to have a look at the following Waldorf Inspired books that explore Festival times:

Crafts Through the Year Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young ChildrenCelebrating Festivals with Children

Andrea is a mum of two little boys, who is passionate about developing Healthy Habits in kids and soothing the minds of mamas. She blogs at HealthyKidsHappyMama about all things health and wellness related from a mother and child perspective. Pop over and say hi and be sure to visit her Facebook page for updates of all things HealthyKidsHappyMama!

 Warmly, Kelly