The kids at our October 12th story-time were very entertaining. I have to give myself props here too; I must be half decent at this book reading thing if I can engage kids in a TOY STORE. Yes, a toy store. With very cool toys. I realize I’m making the same point several times, but I feel the need to underscore my feelings!
There were a few standout moments, like when I got a dad to do the actions for us when we sang ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’ and when the kids turned my reading of ‘Peekaboo Morning’ by Rachel Isadora into a game,. But the real highlight for me came (again) during my reading of Isadora’s book’. If you don’t know the book, it features beautiful pictures of a little boy playing peekaboo around the house, pointing out various members of his family.
I got to the page where the boy saw his grandpa and one of our most animated kids, who was loving the story stopped, cocked her head and looked at me with some confusion. You see, the grandpa in this story didn’t look like hers.
She was very confused. She looked at me. Hard. She needed clarification. But there were other kids in the room, so in the same tone I used to read the story, I asked, ‘Does he not look like your grandpa?’
‘Hmmmmm…?’ She looked at me, still confused. Which I thought was interesting, because she didn’t flinch when on the books protagonist pointed out, ‘I see me!’ on the previous page.
So in the same light tone, I said, ‘that’s because he’s the little boy’s grandpa. Is this not your grandpa?’
Suddenly her confusion gone and a huge smile replaced her frown. ‘No, that’s not my grandpa. My grandpa is Daw Daw!’ She repeated his name, this time with even more excitement ‘Daw Daw!*’. She looked at her dad, he said, ‘yes, your grandpa is Daw Daw!’
That jarring moment of confusion that the first ALB experienced? It’s not uncommon. Kids who don’t see images of their family reflected in the world around them experience that moment all the time. When children aren’t encouraged to ask a question, or when adults don’t pause to discuss their questions, that feeling will stay with them and likely morph into something else. Having had a few days to think about it, I was struck at how easily that little girl was able to express her confusion. I think it’s because she’s used to seeing people like her in books. ANd that’s great. I was happy that she was able to say how she felt.
So conversely, when a child who doesn’t usually see images of their family reflected outside the home sees their family reflected it’s inspiring. One girl, whose family DID look like the characters in Peekaboo got more animated with every page I turned, and at the end of that book reading. Now, I know it had everything to do with the fact that we were playing Peekaboo, but every time I read ‘I see me/I see Grandpa/I see mommy’ her face would light up. By the end of the book, she was jumping alongside the other kids.
*Names have been omitted/changed in this post. We’re talking about families and kids afterall!