I recently heard a program aired on National Public Radio discussing the inspiration behind one of my all time favorite children’s books, The Snowy Day, as it celebrates its 50 year anniversary. The program is titled ‘The Snowy Day’: Breaking Color Barriers Quietly. February is Black History Month and the perfect opportunity to think about how we include children and families from different cultures, races, and ethnicities in the books we read and share with young children.
I truly hope you will take a few minutes to listen to the show! I love one of the final notes in the program where the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation director shares how a kindergarten teacher contacted the author to let him know that the African-American children in her classroom were now using a brown crayon in their self-portraits. Make my heart smile!! And I can’t help but wonder what happened to the little boy in the 1940 Life magazine receiving the immunization that was the inspiration behind the story (be sure to see his pictures) - does he know the impact he has had on so many of us to see illustrations in early childhood literature that included children of different races just being kids?
Thank you Ezra Jack Keates and happy 50th anniversay to The Snowy Day!! The NPR page also has a link to LeVar Burton reading The Snowy Day which you can use as you share the book with children in your care. Do you have favorite stories that show children of different backgrounds simply doing what kids do?
Hope you will share!!
It is the time of year when parents and children all have thoughts of starting or returning to school. Emotions vary based upon children’s temperaments and experiences. Some children are eager for this transition while others might be anxious or nervous. Here are some tips for you and the families in your early childhood program to help in easing that transition –
- Engage in natural conversations with children about what they might be feeling. Children who feel secure and comfortably able to talk about their concerns, needs or ideas will likely enter new situations with more ease.
- Be calm and supportive. Too much enthusiastic talk about the transition might send the message that you are anxious and cause unnecessary fears.
- Visit the new school or classroom. Visibly being able to picture yourself in an environment can help ease the fears of the unknown.
- To ease separation anxiety, it helps when parents can establish a ritual such as a big bear hug and a wave at the window to provide a comforting good-bye routine for their child.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has an excellent publication, Early Learning – Preschool and Kindergarten Ahead (PM2081A) to share with families helping their children get ready for this new adventure.
Books can be a great way to introduce a major transition such as starting school to young children. This naturally opens the door of communication to help you support a child in this new endeavor. Here are some of my favorites –
- Back to School Tortoise is a great book (with a surprise ending!) for those that might be a bit anxious as Tortoise is worried about falling down or not liking lunch.
- Wow! School! would be a great read for those that are enthusiastic about starting school as Izzy shows that same emotion. Children will love seeing familiar items in the drawings such as a few of their favorite books.
This is only the tip of the iceberg! There are always the classics such as Spot Goes to School and Maisy Goes to Preschool. Do you have a favorite children’s literature you share with children at this time of year?