Rain, Rain, Here for a Day (Or Two…)

May 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

As a mom of young children, I will admit to feeling a little dread, even a touch of panic, when I wake up and it’s raining. Trapped inside with my kids? Anything but that! Naturally, my kids think it is a treat, since they have activities reserved for rainy days (“Pillows off the couch! Pillows off the couch!”). Over time, I’ve discovered that if I can live in the moment and give in to the calm and quiet of a rainy day (and, yes, the subsequent moments of cooped-up mania), then there is much to be gained for me as well.

And if not, well, there are always rainy day books to read inside our blanket forts! A good rain book should make you feel wet and cozy at the same time. Uri Shulevitz does this to perfection in his 1969 gem Rain Rain Rivers (Ages 2-6), where pen and ink drawings mix with watercolors in an almost haunting monochromatic exhibit of rain, first falling outside a little girl’s bedroom window, then (as she imagines it) trailing through the city streets, out into the countryside, and into the open, swelling oceans.

Narrated by the little girl, the poetic text has a musical, lulling quality: “Rain rolls down the roofs,/ rushing down the eaves,/ gushing out the drainpipes.” And later: “Rills roll down hills,/ fall into brooks,/ rush into rivers and race to the seas.”  As if to remind us that with children around, we can never totally nod off to the hypnotic sound of rain, our narrator breaks the rhythm with “Frogs,/ stop your croaking!/ Take cover in the water/ and listen to the rain!” As the book goes on, the streets, hills, and lakes become so visually blurred, we can almost feel the dampness in our fingers. It’s funny, but my son JP chooses to read this book more often on nice days than he does on rainy ones, as if the idea of a landscape so totally soaked with water is unimaginable for him when the sun is shining!

But no matter how long we stare at the water trickling down our windows, no matter how tall we build our block towers, it’s the anticipation of what comes after the rain that is the sweetest part of a rainy day. It’s also one our narrator knows well: “Tomorrow new plants will grow./ Birds will bathe in the streets./ We’ll run barefoot in puddles and stamp in warm mud./ I’ll jump over pieces of sky in the gutter.” (How wonderful to watch JP finally “get’ that last line today, exclaiming, “Mommy, the clouds are reflecting in the rain puddles!”). One thing we can always count on as parents: the sun has to come out eventually!

Other Favorite Rain Books:
Red Rubber Boot Day, by Mary Lyn Ray, illus. Lauren Stringer (Ages 2-5)
Come On, Rain, by Karen Hesse, illus. Jon J. Muth (Ages 4-8)

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