-posted by guest blogger Mary Ventura
We recently became members at our local zoo, something I felt I needed to do in order to add to our repertoire of regular places to go and things to do during the week. I was hesitant about doing it though because I’ve never been much of a zoo-going girl, but our first time going through I found myself all aghast at how many opportunities there are at the zoo to draw on our love for books! As I walked towards the bat window I found myself reciting any lines from Stellaluna by Janell Cannon that I could remember, and I smiled to myself as the family who came in after us echoed our thoughts, “Ooooh, just like Stellaluna!” I found Hornbills, a bird we know from the book Peek: A Thai Hide and Seek by Mingfong Ho and Holly Mead, and if I’d ever seen a Hornbill at the zoo before I certainly didn’t remember it. For some reason the zoo seems to be a haven for things I’ve learned from my children’s books.
Now when we head out for the zoo we never leave without our copy of Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. This book seems to be the most complete and easy to pack book from our collection for a trip to the zoo. As we stroll through the exhibits we flip through the book to see if we can find a picture of the animal we’re looking at. We can make connections from illustrations to real life and from stories in a book to stories about what we did that day. By getting to the zoo around opening time we get to see lots of animals being active and we even catch glimpses of the zookeepers cleaning cages and feeding the animals. It’s become a great way to spend a couple hours of our week and give a new lens to the books we love and read everyday. Plus, I love to hear little Gabriel (15 months old) “meow” to the bobcats and say “pupp-ee” as he points to the wolves with a smile that stretches across his entire face!