Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Holiday Education

Anna June is already starting to be threatened with what Santa must be thinking of bringing her this year (as in, lumps of coal) but we've had some other holidays this month that are worth talking about. Not surprisingly, I decided to talk to AJ about them through books.

First was Labor Day. Quite by accident, I saw the book My Apron by Eric Carle. Anna June loved this book, about a young boy who goes to visit his plasterer uncle and just HAS to have an apron just like his. His aunt obliges, and he goes to work along with his uncle. According to the review on Amazon, "The line/tissue paper illustrations are colorful and somewhat geometric, reminiscent of French Cubist Leger's work featuring laborers." I initially picked it up because Anna June likes to wear aprons and I thought that it was appropriate we were reading it near the holiday celebrating workers such as he.

One of our rituals at the library is that I let Anna June pick at least one book. On this particular visit, she was more interested in playing than browsing, but she came up with an interesting pick: Si, Se Puede! ("Yes, We Can: Janitor Strike in L.A." ) by Diana Cohn. When it came time to read the book, AJ wasn't actually all that interested. I glanced at it and it appeared to have a lot of words, which meant it would take too long and I wasn't that interested in reading it to AJ. But as I was about to return it, I sat in the library parking lot and read it for myself. It turns out that half the book is in Spanish, so it is half as long as it appears. Back in 2000, I was preoccupied with my job in Atlanta and this guy from Wisconsin I had just met, but I thought I sort of kept up with the news back then. I have little to no memory of the strike itself. Basically, all I know about it is found in this fictional account for children, and the essay that followed, but I did feel like I was in the true spirit of the holiday as I sat in my car with tears in my eyes about Carlitos' mom fighting for fair wages.

Another book that I stumbled upon at the library this past weekend was The World's Birthday: A Rosh Hashanah Story. Usually, our library is great at having seasonal displays of appropriate books, but just a few days before the holiday, it was shelved with the regular books. I grabbed it up, though, eager to teach Anna June about something that we share with our Jewish friends - an appreciation of God's creation of the world. It is a sweet book - I recommend it if you can find it. Also, it is pretty hilarious to hear Anna June say "Rosh Hashanah"- she says it exactly as I do, which is undoubtedly incorrect.

But as for what is now called Patriot's Day, I am truly at a loss. I am sure there are children's books, but I am not yet ready to really address the unthinkable evil of which mankind is capable with my sweet little girl. Ben started a conversation this afternoon about how, on this day, before she was born, some really bad people did a really bad thing - and she interrupted us, intrigued again by how life was possible before she was born.

"You used to not have me?"
"Yes. Before you were even in mommy's tummy."
"You ate me, Mommy?"
"No, sweetheart. Babies grow in mommies' tummies."

So, a conversation that began about destruction ended up being about creation, and we left it at that.

God bless America.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't eat Babies, Mom!!!See how the little mind works...Literal......makes you stop and think of how much of our language is in the abstract.

Anyway, this was hilarious and I told that story over and over to anyone who would listen at work! Nonny laughed and laughed and laughed and was amazed at the same time. This is why I like the ages 2-5 so much... their perspective is enchanting!