I love breaking out of the mould when reading to my boys. As a lifelong reader, I spent my childhood devouring books as fast as I could turn the pages, from classics like The Chrysalids and Alice in Wonderland to more modern children’s books including The Babysitter’s Club series and anything by Judy Blume. So even though my boys aren’t quite at the level of reading chapter books on their own yet, I’ve always tried to expose them to the same amount of diversity in their reading.
That’s why the newest book release from The Secret Mountain, a publisher that specializes in combining music and picture books to create original experiences for children, sounded so intriguing to me. Songs in the Shade of the Flamboyant Tree is a collection of 30 Creole Nursery Rhymes and Lullabies. The book itself contains vibrant pictures in a bold African style along with a few lines from each of the traditional songs on the CD. The back of the book features the full text of each song in both French Creole and English so that older children can try singing along and parents can read the full version of some of the longer lullabies and nursery rhymes to their children.
The CD contains the songs themselves and they are hauntingly beautiful. Performed with indigenous acoustic instruments, it is a cultural listening experience that is sure to engage both children and adults. I decided to read this book to my boys one night when we had some extra time before bed. Since the CD has a runtime of 43 minutes, I planned to read through half of the book and listen to half of the songs. But my boys were soon giggling away at the different nursery rhymes and so we ended up finishing the book and CD in one sitting that night!
What my boys found most interesting was the subject matter of the nursery rhymes. Just as the original version of some Mother Goose rhymes is a bit dark, the topics discussed in the songs and rhymes were often of a more mature nature. It was a common theme for lullabies to contain threats if their children didn’t sleep and my boys found the song about a cat stealing children that didn’t go to bed absolutely hilarious. They also enjoyed some of the traditional chants used to play games and I loved that every nursery rhyme and lullaby had a paragraph explaining how it had originated including, if applicable, how children played games while chanting the rhyme.
Overall, this book was a great introduction to a different culture for my boys that I enjoyed just as much as they did. And so that you can enjoy the music and stories of another culture with your own kids, Secret Mountain is very generously offering three lucky Mommy Kat and Kids readers their own Songs in the Shade of the Flamboyant Tree Storybook & Music CD! To enter to win, just leave a blog comment with your favourite childhood nursery rhyme.
Books and music are such a great way to teach children about the diversity of the world and this great new title from The Secret Mountain really embraces that philosophy. Check it out for yourself and enjoy brilliant imagery, unique music and an introduction to a colourful and meaningful culture!
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