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Stellaluna is a perfect picture book for introducing young children to the world of bats. Stellaluna, a baby Fruit Bat, is separated from her mother one night and lands in a bird nest. The beautiful and heart-warming story brings Stellaluna's plight to life as she struggles to live among birds. Mama bird demands that Stellaluna stop hanging by her feet, stop making faces when she eats bugs, and work harder at gracefully landing on a branch. Poor Stellaluna just can't seem to fit in! One day, after a long flight, exhausted Stellaluna has to land, and is greeted by another animal. A bat! As Stellaluna explains how she was separated from her mother, another bat cries with joy -- it's Stellaluna's mother! When Stellaluna brings her bat mom to meet her adoptive family, one of the birds ask "How can we be so different and feel so much alike?" our kids got the message about how real friends accept -- and celebrate -- each other for their differences. A universal concept that's far from batty!
After exploring the realistic drawings in Stellaluna, our kids were interested in learning more about those night-flying mammals famous over Halloween season. At our local Science Center, we broadened their bat bandwidth by taking in a fun and educational exhibit about these masters of the night. Upon entry, we donned 3-D glasses to view paintings of six different bat species that seemed to leap out at us. Giant colorful photos of bats in all their glory (sipping nectar from mid-air, catching bugs, and eating fruit) brought us in for a closer look. Our daughter was wooed by a series of bronze bat busts, enlarged to the size of human skulls, for kids to feel and get a sense of bat anatomy. Our son loved donning a pair of over-sized ears (think Dumbo!) to explore how intensely bats can hear, and cocked his head at barely-audible sounds. Both kids loved the echo chamber, where they were actually encouraged to scream, and then count the seconds between each echo to investigate echolocation. Our daughter's favorite species of the day was a Golden-crowned Fruit bat, and our son thought the vampire bat who drinks blood "but only a little and not people blood," was just too cool. Our kids emerged with a lot less fear of, and a lot more insight into, these much myth-understood creatures of the night.
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Our Tips for talking with your kids about this book:
Visiting A Bat Exhibit or Learning More About Bats At Home
Age Recommendation: Pre-School and up
Time Recommendation: One hour
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Adventure: