March has once again blown upon our doorsteps, bringing with it the promise of longer days, (hopefully) warm weather, and wind.
Now I admit that I am not that big a fan of wind. It messes up my hair. It keeps me up at night when it howls and shakes everything in its path. It makes driving a chore. Yet I look forward to the winds of March for one glorious reason - kites.
It seems to me that children today are missing out on the joy of flying a kite. I remember getting a new kite each spring.
Honestly, I probably had to get a new kite a few times because of kite-eating trees, but that's another story. It was always such fun selecting the kite, getting it ready to fly, and then waiting for a perfect day to test it out.
This excitement even carried over into adulthood as my husband and I have purchased a kite or two together.
Our most wonderful kite purchase was a bright red bi-plane style kite. It was magnificent. It was also really hard to fly ... really hard. We may not have been all that successful in getting that kite off the ground for long, but we made some great memories.
I think I enjoy kites because they can be adapted to so many interests.
Love art? Kites are some of the most beautiful toys around. Like science? Benjamin Franklin used his kite to study weather. Love history? Kites have a long, colorful history. On the battlefields of China, General Han Hsin of the Han Dynasty flew a kite over the walls of a city he was attacking to measure how far his army would have to tunnel to reach past the defense.
Then there were the Wright Brothers, who used kites to expand their knowledge of flight.
And if you've ever tried to fly a kite, you know it can be quite a workout! Of course, your sports-minded kids probably won't notice that at all!
"Kite Day: A Bear and Mole Story" by Will Hillenbrand
Our friends Bear and Mole find out what a workout kite flying can be in this book. After designing and building their kite, the two friends get the kite up in the air. When the string breaks, the two take off to catch up to their kite.
"Henry and the Kite Dragon" by Bruce Edward Hall
This book tells true story of two groups of immigrant children growing up in New York in the 1920s. Henry loves to fly homemade kites with his elderly neighbor, Grandfather Chin. Tony and his pals raise homing pigeons. Tempers flare when the boys throw a rock through one of Grandfather Chin's beautiful kites. Will the boys be able to work out a plan that benefits the pigeons as well as the kite flying?
"Super Duck" by Jez Alborough
In the final adventure for duck, goat, sheep and frog, duck gets to be a hero. When his friends hit a snag while flying a kite it's Super Duck to the rescue!
So this March, I encourage you to share some kite stories with your family while you wait for that perfect wind and then try some kite flying of your very own. And don't forget to keep an eye out for kite-eating trees!
~ Lee Ann Cleary is the children's program director at the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling.