May 3, 2015

History Repeats; Picture Books Heal- SMOKY NIGHT

As events unfolded in Baltimore recently, I ached at the thought of history repeating itself in an endless loop. 
No, I don't mean a loop of other urban unrest in recent months.
I mean the loop of urban uprisings (and rural hate crimes, and generational injustices) dating back to the 1990's, and before that to the 1960's and 70's. And long before that.
Sadly, I've included these lyrics (from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical, SOUTH PACIFIC, 1949) in prior posts and they remain painfully current and true:
April, 1999, Caldecott Medal
"You've got to be taught

To hate and FEAR

You've got to be taught from year to year

It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear

You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught

Of people whose eyes are oddly made

And people whose skin is a different shade

You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught

Before it's too late

Before you are 6 or 7 or 8 

To hate all the people 

your relatives hate

You've got to be carefully taught."

And yet children of any age, including those in wrinkled bodies, can learn positive lessons, as well. Picture books of the highest quality, like Caldecott Medal-winning SMOKY NIGHT, written by EVE BUNTING and illustrated by DAVID DIAZ, allow us to explore the most horrific and painful issues. 

The "one degree of separation" from an immediate experience offers an opportunity to consider every point-of-view, each terrifying detail, and several heartfelt reactions using a healthy blend of reason and emotion. 

 I urge you to take a moment, actually less than two minutes, to view this YouTube statement by the author regarding the use of this book with children. (Click Here for video)

For an extensive resource (teaching guides, audio clips, and other useful tools) check out this link to teaching 
Above all, read this amazing book, and share it with anyone, of any age, who is concerned about social upheaval, of any size.
When adults feel helpless and hopeless, what are we teaching the children? Sharing tragic truths can and should include sharing positive models for reshaping our personal spaces. And, ultimately, the world.

Please help spread the word  about this book.

For  a well-organized resource of high quality picture books that address and heal other painful situations, I recommend this  blog:

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