M’s Pre-K session came to an end a few weeks ago, but not before we got to work on a final project that I couldn’t wait to get started on – The Caldecott Awards. I, for one was really thrilled to actually bring home Caldecott award winning books to share with M as part of a school project and her teacher had probably never met a weirder parent who was this excited about her kid’s pre-K project!
I am sure my inability to contain my excitement must have embarrassed M but the sweet thing didn’t complain and we brought home three of the award winning books - The Polar Express (by Chris Van Allsburg, Caldecott Winner 1986 ), Grandfather’s Journey (by Allen Say, 1994 Caldecott Medal Winner ) and …well, we never really got to reading the third for some reason and I forget the name.
Needless to say, the first was an instant hit. We hadn’t read it together before although we’ve seen snippets of the movie a few times. She took an immediate liking to it and there are parts in the book’s pages that make you wonder if Mr. C in fact isn’t real in some sense, maybe in a parallel universe that we just don’t try hard enough to see! A truly lovely read with illustrations that make you smile, gasp, choke with emotion and shed a tear as you turn its beautiful pages. ‘For those who truly believe’ is a phrase that took some explaining for M and I’m not quite sure I did a very good job. How do you explain something like ‘Belief’ to a 4-year-old anyway?
The second book, Grandfather’s Journey is a poignant tale of a young immigrant man from Japan and the twists and turns in his life as he vacillates between the two lands, their cultures, the choices he makes at different turning points and how he goes about finding (and to some extent establishing) his own identity. This was the book M eventually picked for her school presentation and I could see that she could understand the turmoil in the protagonist’s mind even though she herself may not be able to relate to it. Maybe she was reminded of her own grandparents and cousins across the globe whom she gets to visit every alternate year or so and misses the minute she is back in the US. Or, maybe she just found the simple and straightforward story easy to tell in her own words. Whatever her reasons were, I was told that her presentation was well received and appreciated and that she had her audience’s rapt attention as she narrated the story to her class. A beautiful book I would recommend to all immigrants and their children – it gives a glimpse into the minds of people who on the surface belong to two countries and yet, are either at a loss to understand their true identity or are unable to decide which one to call home. This book with breathtaking illustrations takes us from the sun-kissed mountains and rivers of Japan to the gorgeous landscapes of California while giving us glimpses of early 1900 America along the way.
Spanning generations, timezones and a range of emotions, this book provides the opportunity to talk about and share so much with your child - from your childhood to your nationality to different cultures and globalization, to world travel, generation gap, world history and more.
We also revisited one of M’s earlier earlier favorites from Tulika – Water Stories: A collection of stories about this wonderful and valuable resource from around the world.
Who owns the water: A thought-provoking tale that M and I enjoyed thoroughly. It’s amazing how a simple children’s story can shine light on one of the world’s burning issues. This simple story set in rural India starts out with a Mother bird looking for a shady spot to lay her eggs. From this seemingly unremarkable beginning, the story expands to weave in a tale of greed, gratitude and basic human nature, questioning the prevalent tendency to lay claim on nature when in reality, it belongs to…now that’s the blank you and your child will have to fill in as you read the story.
After we had read the story, M’s answer touched me – but more about that in a later post.
Happy Summer Reading to you and your little ones!