Story Explorers: In the Town All Year ‘Round

It’s that time of year again when I’m getting the itch for cooler weather, cardigans, and boots. Though fall is not yet upon us, though we should have cooler days coming up that are not so devastatingly hot and humid. Days where you and your kiddos can get outside and explore for hours on end and there’s no fear of crankiness due to heat (just remember to bring the snacks!).

Before you head out on your adventure, read the picture book In the Town All Year 'Round by Susanne Rotraut Berner. Translated from the original German, Berner takes us through four different seasons in the same cutaway scenes of a town. Kids can explore what’s going on inside an apartment complex, farm, train station, city center, shopping mall, and park. It's everything I always wanted Richard Scarry and Where's Waldo to be: less busy. There's absolutely nothing wrong with Waldo and Busy Town. Berner just does a better job for me of creating beautiful panoramic scenes of the European town of my dreams. And, because this book is less busy, it's much more enjoyable by people who get distracted by too much information, like myself. 

In each season, children are given an introduction to the characters featured and prompts to look for as they pore through the pages. For example, in winter children must figure out who lost their wallet and key and where Ella and Andrew’s parrot is hiding. In spring, try to find who has thrown away their banana peel or if Frank finds new friends. It’s really an “I Spy” game rolled up into a beautiful picture book.

Every time you visit this book (you will likely be asked to read it more than once), you will find something new. Maybe it’s the pictures hanging in the apartments, the changing displays at the museum, or what the crow is up to in each scene. It’s definitely a book that can be enjoyed over and over again.

Read this book before you head downtown on a city exploration. Make up your own stories about the people you see. Create a list of items to find and make your own live-action scavenger hunt.

Here are some early literacy skills you will use and some suggestions on how to have fun with this book and your kiddos:

  • Repetition- Revisiting stories again and again encourages children to predict what happens next and helps them learn how to tell their own stories. Let your kiddo tell you the story!
  • Vocabulary- Naming people, places, and things helps children develop their vocabulary and learn how language works. Make a game of reading the book together by naming all of the red things you see or all of the animals that are in the garden. Get creative and give names to all of the animal babies in the spring section!.

For more information on books like In the Town All Year 'Round, also known as Wimmelbooks, check out this illustrated Snail's Guide to Wimmelbooks by Elys Dolan.