So, not long ago one of our bedtime reads was The House That Jane Built, and I felt really good about starting a conversation with my children about how they could possibly help the less fortunate, so I thought I’d try to continue that with a similar book a few days later.
To help celebrate Earth Day, classes in the school I work at will be reading this book:
The Water Princess is based on a true story about a young African girl who has to walk miles with her mother each day, just to get the water her family will use to do the most basic things, i.e. clean clothes, cook food. I wanted to give my babies some perspective about things that are expectations to us are luxuries to others.
And as usual, I brought it home first to read it to my kids beforehand. Standard protocol, I read through it at some point, just to make sure everything’s kosher and my reading of the book will be of thespian quality. (ha!)
The kids were excited about reading it, so I was all set to impart some more wisdom and continue my quest to mold multi-dimensional people (ha! again). We were about halfway in, when we came to this page:
This book is beautifully poetic, but because of its setting in Africa, it also has a couple of French words, including “maman”, which means “mom”. But when I got to that page, I stuttered.
As I’m trying to figure how to say the word, my children are cracking up laughing. Granted, it is kinda funny, but hey, I was trying to help these people learn about another culture, and I’ve completely lost them. Ugh.
Eventually I was able to finish the book, and it has a nice little “About this story” type page at the end of the book, so I started to explain to them how it was based on a true story, and Gie Gie, the main character, had to walk 4 miles one way each day just to get water. My giggling son was already out of the room, but I got to have a brief conversation with my daughter about how this is a big deal. Of course her solution, after being excited to not have to go to school, was to have me teach her on the walk to get the water, once she realized that not going to school at all was vastly different than missing a day occasionally to have to get water.
So I did get a little teaching in, but the moral of this story is, at least glance at, if not read through a picture book (chapter books are more difficult to read through) before you share it with your children. It makes for a smoother read on your part, as well as increases your chances of maintaining their interest in the story.
(Also, this book is great for Earth Day, plus I love Peter H. Reynolds’ illustrations!)