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My Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza is winding down, but I continue to be amazed at the high-quality and in-depth book reviews my guest posters have come forth with. This week is no exception either as Vicki Arnold from The Library Adventure joins us to share a wonderful book and activity that your family is sure to enjoy. Welcome, Vicki!
A Chair For My Mother was written and illustrated by Vera B. Williams. This picture book is recommended for ages 4-8, but I used it with my 8-11 year olds and my 2 year old. My older children enjoy picture books still and I enjoy the conversation that can arise from the story lines. Experiencing a picture book with kids who can analyze the text and photos is completely different than experiencing it with a toddler or even a younger elementary student.
Vera B. Williams was born in California in 1927. She grew up and currently lives in New York City. At her parents’ encouragement, she studied art in high school and in college. She graduated Black Mountain College in 1949. Before becoming an author/illustrator, she taught in multiple alternative schools from 1953-1970. She then went on to write and illustrate many children’s books, for which she won several awards.
A Chair For My Mother is a 1983 Caldecott Honor Book and rightfully so. The illustrations are colorful and have a whimsical feel to them – childish, but not baby-ish. I particularly enjoyed the city block that illustrated the community coming together to help Rosa’s family.
The basic story line is about Rosa, her mother, and grandmother, though extended family and their community play a part, too. Sometimes after school, Rosa visits her mother at her work. Josephine, her mother’s boss, gives her jobs, too. All the change and half of Rosa’s earnings go into a huge jar.
We then find out that the jar is how the small family is saving money to buy a big, soft chair for mama to rest her feet in at the end of the day because all of their possessions had been destroyed in a fire and they only had the “hard kitchen chairs” to sit in. Ultimately, they save enough money and buy their dream chair.
There are a lot of themes you could pull from to discuss with children. Family is an obvious choice, financial hardships is another option. I chose a third.
In the middle of the book, there is a celebration of how the community comes together to help when the family of three moves into Rosa’s aunt and uncle’s basement apartment. The image of neighbors bringing what they could to give to someone who had lost everything is touching.
A Chair For My Mother Activity
I am all about simplicity. There is a time and place for elaborate crafts and activities, but I’m just not in a season of life for that right now. This activity is simple. We chose to focus on the kindness shown by Rosa’s neighbors. For this activity, you will need:
- pen or pencil
I also used a clipboard, but that’s optional. 😉
I labeled our paper with these headings:
- Into the World
What we did next was to focus on ways we could serve or perform random acts of kindness in these areas. I’ll explain each section with a little more detail.
- Home – We discussed ways they could bless the other members of our household. From my experience, this can be both the easiest and the hardest for kids. The easiest because these are the people they are in contact with each day so they have a better idea of what would be a help or blessing to those individuals. The hardest because it can be difficult to want to bless your siblings in certain seasons of life.
- Family – This is where we put acts of service we could do for extended family members like grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.
- Community/Neighbors – Those around our home. The ones that we may or may not know all that well.
- Strangers – We thought of the strangers that cross our paths as we go grocery shopping or run other errands. My kids ideas were simple, but, from experience, they often are met with the most encouraging responses. Things like smiling at strangers, holding open doors, and helping load groceries in cars.
- Into the World – The last area we discussed was how we could have an impact globally. For us, this was pretty easy. Through our church we have knowledge of many ministries that work with many different demographics. We started with some that we already support (Operation Christmas Child) and then made a note to explore more ways we could help other ministries and demographics.
Finally, I challenged my kids to actually DO some of the items we listed or come up with another idea. Either way, I wanted them to actually serve, not just think or talk about serving.
Vicki Arnold is the happily married, homeschooling mom of four children. She blogs about homeschooling, faith, and books at Simply Vicki. She is also the owner of The Library Adventure, where a great group of writers share their passion for books, literacy, and libraries! You can also find her and The Library Adventure on Pinterest pinning great resources for everyone.