Let's go "Beyond the Book" with The Chanukah Guest.
What a delightful, fanciful story! A sleepy bear wakes up to the smells of latkes and following his nose finds Bubba Brayna frying away. Because of her poor vision and hearing, Bubba mistakes the bear for the Rabbi. It is so funny that I am sure a child will laugh out loud!
Without fear (because she doesn't know to be afraid) Bubba Bryna makes this hungry wild animal wait to eat, because blessings over the Chanukah lights come first!
Lesson: this is a lesson in self-control - sometimes one's own needs must wait - like it or not!
Bubba opens the door without really knowing who is there, this provides a good chance to discuss when we open our door and to whom! This is a natural opportunity to practice the rules of not letting in strangers or talking to strangers or going with strangers!
When Bubba Brayna realizes that she has given all her latkes to a bear and now she must start all over again to make more latkes, she does not panic but rather begins again graciously. This time, however, all the guests pitch in to get the job done. What a wonderful lesson, when we point out to our children what "taking it in stride" really means. We must not allow the negative events in life to get blown out of perspective.
A science lesson seems very natural after the reading of this book. As winter approaches, a bear hibernates - sleeping and lowering his heart rate. This is part of his natural instinctive behavior. Other animals, however, burrow, grow thicker coats, make cocoons and some even leave the cold weather and fly south. We, on the other hand, have different ways that we get ready for winter. We have our furnaces checked, buy new winter coats and boots, check our cars, put different windows up on our house, buy salt and prepare to shovel snow.
A basic realization should come out of such a discussion - we, have freedom of choice - freedom to choose when and how to get ready for a changing environment
Animals cannot. It's part of their natural instinct that offers them no choice in the matter. Thus in it's simplest form, we can have a very philisophical discussion with our children about the difference between instinct and freedom of choice.