During this year’s Coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s adult population is NOT practicing many of the “character” traits taught in elementary school, if truth be told. Sure, we are working hard to find a cure or a treatment. We are caring for the sick and manufacturing PPE. We are re-evaluating commerce and trade. Yet, how are we working to protect and strengthen the inner character trait of patience, which our society SAYS it values?
Our children see our example. We cannot wait one year during a time of pandemic to leave home and take a vacation (thus spreading the virus from State-to-State)? We cannot wait a few months to sit down in an indoor restaurant? We cannot wait two or three days to receive election results? Obviously, the character trait which Americans need to rediscover MOST is PATIENCE!
What does this observation have to do with literacy? Well, a great deal! Reading a great story requires ____? Patience. Developing an exemplary vocabulary requires ______? Patience. The proper use of the English language requires _____? Patience. Therefore, if we are teaching and encouraging reading and writing skills, we are also DEVELOPING an inner sense of PATIENCE!
However, obviously, not only do we need to spend a great deal of time (and patience) assisting our children as they develop literacy skills, we also need to SPEAK to patience, sharing books with our young ones which highlight this virtue, encouraging readers’ response. This blog strives to guide you down such a path.
Returning to classic children’s stories, let’s remember Ruth Krauss’ 75 year-old The Carrot Seed, in which a young boy plants a seed and watches its slow growth and progression, the adults around him noting “I’m afraid it won’t grow.” This character doesn’t listen to such nonsense. Instead, he “waters his seed, and pulls the weeds, and he waits…”
Or, why not once again take delight in Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, Kevin Henkes’ treatise on waiting for just the right moment? Also, don’t forget Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon, in which a young girl waits “to go owling with Pa,” richly rewarded with nature’s magic in the end.
Thinking of more recent books, again Kevin Henkes delivers with the Caldecott-Honor title Waiting, in which a group of five toy friends gaze out into the world, together, as they remain stationary on a windowsill, waiting for “something wonderful.” And, don’t forget the endearing Llama, Llama, Red Pajama, by Anna Dewdney, which helps a child realize the rich rewards present to those who successfully diminish the “drama” of impatience.
For older readers, don’t forget Linda Sue Park’s A Long Walk to Water, in which two Sudanese youngsters simultaneously endure treacherous treks, all in an attempt to reach safety…and clean water. Also, engage readers with the voice of Sara Pennypacker’s Pax, a fox who waits what seems like an eternity to find his true course. Last, but not least, read Ruth Behar’s Lucky Broken Girl, to discover the fruits of patience: strength and resilency.
These titles are of course just a start, and NCBLA hopes this blog encourages YOU to PATIENTLY search for more, sharing all those you find with young ones crossing your path each and every day!