‘A Chair for My Mother’ – Tuesday’s Look at THIS Book!

* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room.

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Today’s great book: A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams (1982, HarperCollins)

About the Author: http://www.kidsreads.com/authors/vera-b-williams

Teacher Resource:  http://www.teachingbooks.net/tb.cgi?tid=1264&a=1

Time to Read: 32-pages, a touching family story; we read it before bed

Summary:  from the publisher…”The jar of coins is full. The day has come to buy the chair – the big, fat, comforable, wonderful chair they have been saving for. The chair that will replace the one that was burned up – along with everything else – in the terrible fire.  A book of love and tenderness filled with the affirmation of life.”

Best Quote from the Book:  “When we can’t get a single other coin into the jar, we are going to take out all the money and go and buy a chair.”

Our View:  Written and illustrated by Vera B. Williams and named a Caldecott Honor Book by the American Library Association, A Chair for My Mother has been a longtime favorite of mine and I read it every semester to my college students who are aspiring to become teachers of young children and their families.  The story places itself firmly in the lives of a little girl and her mother and grandmother, deep in the heart of the city, among a close knit group of family and friends that surround them.  Taking care of each other, hard work, saving, financial issues, fire and the loss of a home – each topic weaves itself through the plot and brings to life the courage and dedication of a family to keep going and do great things…together.  

63-year old Mother Reads to 42-year old Son!

My mom read to me while we were in the car today! Yes, you read that right. My mom read to me.

I was taking her to a new Chinese food restaurant near the office where we work together and she had just purchased a new children’s book as a gift for a new baby.

As we made the short drive to the restaurant, my mom was so excited about this book that she said, “I have got to read this story to you!”

And so…my 63-year old mother, in a familiar cadence that took me right back into my childhood, read a book to her 42-year old son.

I can’t say that either one of us remember what the last book was that she read to me before the fleeting days of my childhood disappeared before our eyes, but we will always be able to recall the book that she read to me earlier today.

It all reminds me to look into the mirror tonight and remember: read to your kids….read to your kids…read to your kids.

You never know when you’ll get to read to them again. You just never know.

P.S. If you need another reason to read to your kids tonight, take a look at this fascinating article from Forbes that was posted just this week:

“Kids Don’t Read Books Because Parents Don’t Read Books”

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Courage in Oz

Cowardly Lion:  “All right, I’ll go in there for Dorothy. Wicked Witch or no Wicked Witch, guards or no guards, I’ll tear them apart. I may not come out alive, but I’m going in there. There’s only one thing I want you fellows to do.”

Tin Woodsman & Scarecrow:  “What’s that?”

Cowardly Lion:  “Talk me out of it!”

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Oz

As my wife and I and our friends get older and move into this stage of our children leaving home and living their own lives, I was deeply struck by some words attributed to John Steinbeck.  He wrote, “Perhaps it takes courage to raise children…”

I have tried to think back to our early days of parenting to discover when the need for courage really begins. Was it when the doctor first confirmed that a baby was indeed on the way and we rejoiced while at the same time wondered what it really meant for two people who still enjoyed romantic dinners and quiet nights at the movies and sleeping in on Saturdays? Was it in the long hours watching the pains of labor that finally produced a real live baby who would bear a name only we had chosen for her?

Maybe it was the hard and frustrating nights around our kitchen table when money was tight and bills were voluminous and the future of our young family loomed somewhere out there in the darkness? Could it have come when another’s rising fever forced us to the emergency room on her birthday and we thought we had lost her on the frantic drive there?

Maybe it came when one made a bad decision that ended with discipline and heartbreak and anger and mercy and forgiveness near the midnight hour around our kitchen table? Or maybe it truly began when one left for life on a college campus that she would soon call “home?”

Then again, maybe the courage to parent is always present, lying dormant somewhere within us and just waiting for these and a million other moments to arrive and pull courage from its slumber.  Maybe, just maybe, if courage was required of parents all the time, we would never want to be parents, never want to accept the journey to live and love and lose and win and fail and try and try again.

It all makes me think of our youngest’s favorite book, The Wizard of Oz.  The cowardly lion is so worried about everything that he somehow ends up hiding in the shadows of that forest, a recluse, all alone and going nowhere…so discouraged to have no courage.  And then, only after he stops worrying about not having courage and accepts Dorothy’s invitation to join her and her friends on that now famous journey – then and only then does courage come, just when he needs it most.