Summer's Mascot: Lightning Bugs

Amy Rees
July 27, 2009

He might call them fireflies. He might call them lightning bugs, though in truth he says it more like "lightin' bugs." He might have run around filling a jar with them just last evening. He might have never, ever seen a real one. But no matter, all kids love fireflies. Lightning bugs are summer's own mascot, and it is high time to learn a bit more about these glowing little characters!

First, the essentials about finding and capturing your flying friends. You might consider the title to be an oxymoron, but your preschooler probably doesn't (or, rather, wouldn't, if he knew the word). Pet Bugs: A Kid's Guide to Catching and Keeping Touchable Insects is the reference book you need if your backyard holds most of your little one's favorite companions. Get out your jam jar and start catching lightning in a bottle, if you will.

We return early and often to the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series for answers and explanations of the natural world, and the series provides the excellent Fireflies in the Night to guide us here. This volume is especially helpful for the kiddos who have never seen a lightning bug -- it's like an explanation of a different world entirely!

The magic of fireflies for us is that they seem like mini-fireworks on an ordinary summer night. The magic of fireflies for fireflies is that light lets them communicate with each other. Fireflies don't flash their lights to be charming, hard as it for our little ones to believe. They're talking to each other, signaling the way to a firefly playdate. The masterful Eric Carle captures both kinds of lightning bug magic in The Very Lonely Firefly.

And another icon of children's literature explored the charms of a firefly -- do you remember P. D. Eastman's Sam and the Firefly? Eastman explores the mischief that a firefly can wreak by talking with his light. Kids of all corners of the continent have been reading the 1958 classic in the summers since, wondering what they could do with a built-in flashlight...

Later, for bedtime, when the capturing and oohing and aahing and dreaming about firefly conversations and antics has ended, do enjoy a read through Ten Flashing Fireflies. The glowing illustrations are the perfect way to dim the light on your own little bug. 

From the Parents

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