BIG RED BARN
by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Felicia Bond - HarperFestival 2014 (first published 1989)
ages newborn to early childhood / heartwarmers, language
In our house at least, Big Red Barn is a bedtime book. It’s the softly-told story of farm animals bedding down for the night.
The tale is nothing extraordinary and I’d be hard pressed to come up with a ‘moral of the story’—but it’s lovely and calming, even reassuring. And it’s elevating; stories about farms and animals help to remind us of simpler times but also of what is real in life.
There’s a feeling of certainty that comes with reading Big Red Barn over and over again. Because there's rhyme and rhythm in the words, it’s easy to read aloud.
The easy rhymes make it a good early literacy book. One of the skills that support literacy is the ability to anticipate and this is a great book for that. After one or two readings, even very young children will be able to anticipate what comes next in (for example):
“And a big white hen
Standing on one leg
And under the hen was a quiet …” (egg, obviously.)
It’s also a great counting book for early numeracy, for example there’s a clutch of eggs that are included in the text. But there’s so much more—how many puppies does the dog have, how many kittens for the cat, how many animals altogether and so on. It's also great for animal sounds!
This is definitely a book to read at the end of a long day, or when the current animated fascination gets a bit overwhelming.
P.S. It was our son Alec’s favourite story (he’s an animal boy still), so I gave him a new copy for his Christmas Eve present the year he was waiting for his first little girl to arrive. It was the book they packed in their hospital bag to read to Ivy while she was still in the hospital!