I have a simple philosophy on children of 5 and 6 year old age. I
believe these sweet little ones go into kindergarten as ‘babies’ and
come out of this period of time as, ‘school kids.’ I have seen both
Marley who attends one elementary school in kindergarten and
my grandson, Micah, who attends another elementary school in
the same level of education grow ‘in leaps and bounds.’
Every book their parents or I read to them, suddenly have become
‘brand new’ and they see such interesting new things in them. It is
almost like being ‘re-born.’ When it comes to understanding the
way children are ‘different’ or ‘unique,’ it really helps to watch the
changes first hand. I admit with my ‘pack of three’ being raised
with others I babysat, they were not given as much individual
attention. This becomes apparent when I am typing away the
‘bright’ quotes I can honestly listen to and apply to the six of the
grandchildren. But, to tell you the truth, the kindergartners have
my full attention.
Take a week ago, when my grandson, Micah, was asking me about
my apartment. When did I move there? Why do I have my kitchen
table in the living room? Do I like having to do my laundry in the
About a month ago, my granddaughter, Marley was not totally
satisfied with looking at her own photo albums. She had a big
stack of them, since I put the 36 photo albums together each
season, for each individual grandchild. Marley has over 7 albums
to study and check out. She asked me first to look at her Daddy’s
baby photo album and then, moved on to her Aunt Felicia and
her Aunt Carrie’s. I was not asked too many questions, but I saw
her study each photo and it took her over an hour to move on to
ask me her next ‘request.’
Finally, she wanted to see my three “wedding dresses’ albums.”
This is how she named them. I told her I have only one photo of
the first wedding dress, so I showed her it. I told her “Aunt Carrie”
has the rest of the first wedding party photos. She is the ‘oldest’
and the only girl from this first marriage, I explained to Marley.
I really felt most of the photographs of her relatives would ‘mean
more to her’ than her brother, Marley’s Daddy.
She studied the three wedding dresses intently. She finally asked me
why I married each of my three husbands. I tried to make a ‘joke,’
telling her my patent answer to adults who ask me this question,
“This was my way of being a ‘serial monogamist.'”
For some reason, Marley looked like she really understood this
to be a cynical or sarcastic comment and used her scolding voice
“Nana, I am asking you a serious question: Why did you get married
more than once?”
My answer was a combination of “love” and “hope.” I gave her a
big hug for asking and told her,
“Your Daddy and Mommy will be like my own parents, they found
the right match and will put effort into keeping their family together
When it comes to teaching young children about the variations of
life, sometimes their lessons may come from viewing children and
families at the beach, grocery store or church. Up until they go to
school, they may think their family unit is just fine. My youngest
daughter asked her Dad years ago to come to special events, but
she found that I was her ‘constant’ and her ‘home.’
A valuable book with lessons, which could be a ‘tool’ to open a
discussion about class levels and economic differences has been
recently published. It is called, “Last Stop on Market Street.”
The author of this delightful book is Matt de la Pena. The
illustrations are created by Christian Robinson.
You may already know the lessons held within this book, but it
has a rich diversity of subjects with a little boy who questions
what is around him. There is an element of ‘Life doesn’t seem to
be fair’ to him, in his questions.
The subject of why children don’t have as many choices of clothing,
backpacks, coats, shoes and those things are often brought up after
some time spent in kindergarten has passed. This book would help
to give a picture to children of a whole different lifestyle, while it
also is done lovingly and beautifully.
There are places which address the subject of what children may
like to have new clothes and other things for their first day of school.
Some ‘Big Box Stores’ have bins where you may purchase glue sticks
for your own child or grandchild, along with tossing some into the
bin. There are places where you can go to get new coats, as well as
other nice new things, ‘vouchers’ for new shoes and backpacks. They
may be held at your county fairgrounds or they could be passed out
at a local charity location. It is nice to hope that each child can start
the school year, with a ‘level playing field,’ so those students who
have less in their household income can still feel ‘pride’ in their
back to school clothes and other accessories.
The new book, “Last Stop on Market Street” started a great
discussion with my grandies. They were interested in knowing if
I knew such and such, did this child have the same situation as
the little boy in the book? I think this book would be almost better
to present before they go off to school. It would help for those who
have more than others, to be careful not to judge nor ask too many
I would label this book a ‘break through’ book, one which is rare to
find with a powerful, but gently expressed, understated message.
As a boy is leaving church with his grandmother, he sighs in relief,
he feels like going outside is ‘freedom.’ He has probably wriggled
and twitched, feeling confined in the church. The boy named C.J.
holds his grandmother’s hand while she holds an umbrella over
the top of their heads.
The two head off to a bus stop. There is mention of this being
their weekly procedure or routine. Not everyone has a car, a
house or food every day. There is a subtle way of letting the
reader and listener of the story find this out.
As he looks out a window of the bus, C.J. sees a friend in a car
with his father. After the car zips on by the bus, C.J. wonders
“Nana, how come we don’t get a car?”
Later, he notes a young man listening to a digital music player
and he displays the classical example of kid’s ‘I want. . .’ or
wishing for something obviously out of the grandmother’s
Each time his Nana responds with positive words. She makes the
bus ‘come alive’ for C.J. as if it were a ‘dragon.’ She reminds him
of the bus driver’s ‘magic’ trick he plays when they get on the bus.
She mentions that the young man playing a guitar on the bus,
is entertainment enough. A blind man teaches C.J. a lesson on
senses. There are wonderful elements in this book which you
will become enchanted with, too.
The colorful illustrations display a myriad of views of the
community on the outside of the bus, as they pass different
The lesson of life being full of excitement without any technical
devices or modern conveniences is not told directly but indirectly
shown through the unfolding tale.
As they get off the bus, C.J. wonders why they always have to go
on Sundays to the soup kitchen for their meal. This will help
open a discussion with children or grandchildren. In this lovely
book, it reminds us that in the “Land of Plenty” or America, we
may not always have neighbors, friends or people living one
short block over, with as much as we have. There is a sense of
global understanding, in the diversity of characters and culture
in this book.
A children’s book reviewer, Julie Danielson, expressed this:
“It’s not often that you see class addressed in picture books in
ways that are subtle and seamless, but in “Last Stop on Market
Street,” the affectionate story of a young boy and his grandmother
does just that.”
There is a new Valentine’s Day book to recommend. It is one of the
bunny books by author Jutta Langreuter and illustrated by Stephanie
“There’s No One I Love Like You.”
This German author has a series of “Little Bear” books and there
are a few in her native language, too. One which looks interesting
and magical in its illustrations with German expressions is called,
“Frida and die Kleine Waldhexe.”
If you have a favorite book for children and wish to include it,
please feel free to tell us about the book and its message, too.