~posted by Ruth
We are bike riders in this family–for commuting, for pleasure, to get to places on mountain bikes we couldn’t enjoy otherwise. Our latest bicycle fanatic is Jacob, who recently mastered the two-wheel challenge sans training wheels. As you can see in this picture, he is already attempting junior ramps!
So it’s about time we celebrated May as National Bike Month. There are, of course, lots of non-fiction books about bikes, but it’s also fun to include a little fiction in our bike-celebration reading diet. Enjoy the following, with something for every member of your family.
Duck on a Bike by David Shannon
This has been a favorite book with the twins since they were babies. Of course, we all love anything written and illustrated by David Shannon. Molly and Jacob loved it so much, we bought if for their cousin Hazel–and it soon became a favorite for her, too. Why do they all love it? Well, it’s a great readaloud as Duck gets the crazy idea to borrow an appealing red bike and learn to ride it. Along the way, she meets all kinds of animals, who think it’s very silly to see a duck on a bike. The quirky humor, funny illustrations, and of course, the chance to shout out animal sounds throughout the book make this book a winner. It’s even fun for the adults reading the book to their appreciative audience, and a great introduction to talking about bike-riding experiences.
Hokey Pokey by Spinelli
In this fabled world, there are no adults. It’s a land where children make the rules without adult concerns, and the joy of riding a bicycle, racing like the wind, is a kind of supreme ecstasy. But one day Jack, the leader of the kids and the protagonist of the story, wakes to find his beloved bike, Scramjet, has been taken by Jubilee (an enemy largely because she is a girl). The story is a kind of sci-fi, fantasy allegorical tale of childhood, coming of age, and accepting a new world that was always there. It starts slow, I found, but really grows on you and I’ve seen it used very successfully as a read-aloud with 5th and 6th graders (both at home and school). Now is the perfect time to dip into the latest Spinelli novel–and take a carefree spin on your bike.
Teens and Older:
The White Bicycle by Beverly Brenna
Taylor Jane travels to France for the summer and chronicles her trip in her journal. Since her diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome at age 11, she has learned to use her writing as a tool to help her process her experiences, and as readers, we are able to eavesdrop on her thinking as we read those journal entries. The White Bicycle figures prominently in her dreams, where the “the speed and wind on my face as I ride is exhilarating.” The book is the third novel about Taylor Jane, and in my mind, the most compelling. The respect for the gifts as well as challenges of autism is refreshing and informative.
The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
In our not so distant past, bicycles were a daily means of transportation. References to bicycles, then, figure prominently in many of our literature classics. Two Sherlock Holmes stories, for example, feature bicycles and bicyclists. You and your family might enjoy these Arthur Conan Doyle short stories as part of your National Bicycle Month celebration. You can find them at the following links as well as in the complete collected works.
Part of the fun of this story is Holmes’ clever deductions based on the bicycle tire tread tracks.
Watson chronicles the story of the lovely Violet Smith, who has taken up the hip trend of women cycling in the 1890’s. Unfortunately, she is stalked by a lone bicyclist and Watson takes up this challenging case by himself at first. Mystery and marriage schemes abound.