With Valentine’s Day fast approaching and a winter storm yesterday in the Northeast, I hope this illustration by Trina Schart Hyman becomes manifest at kitchen tables throughout the region. And beyond! This scene is like my own vision of Utopia.
Thanks to Christina Wild Joanis for showing it to me.
Its snowing! My kids love snow and we had a great walk through the park today with plenty of snowballs and track making. Snowy days, which are such a rare treat, always make me think of Ezra Jack Keats‘ 1962 book “The Snowy Day” and of course, it was our bedtime story tonight.
And soon we can make snowy day mail! With postage stamps featuring Keats’ artwork of Peter’s snowy day! When, you ask? USPS is keeping it vague by only telling us they will be released in 2017.
While you wait you can go out and buy Andrea Davis Pinkney’s beautiful book “A Poem for Peter.” My sister gave it us as a Christmas gift and I recommend it for fans of Keats. Its a lovely tribute to a trailblazing artist who broke a cultural barrier by creating the first African American main character in a children’s book. By writing and illustrating the character of Peter, Keats profoundly affected the lives of children, particularly black children who identified with Peter in a deep way, including Pinkney, who slept with the book under her pillow when she was a child.
As a student of communication, I have had a lot to think about since the presidential election results of 2016, particularly how commercial and social media contributed to the election of Donald Trump. Of all the myriad ways that I believe Trump to be unqualified to be President, the one that kept me up all night on November 8th is what an awful role model he is for children. As a parent and educator, I am appalled that a thin skinned bully who uses language and actions in vicious ways, the kind of person we try hard to teach our children NOT to be, has won. Apparently I am not alone. A group of parents started a letter writing campaign for children called “Dear President Trump: Letters from Kids about Kindness.” According to a Washington Post article by Amy Wang about the project, parents have been posting their children’s letters on social media (including Trump’s bully pulpit, Twitter) with the hashtag #kidsletterstotrump. To the letter writers and their parents, thanks for trumping hate with paper love.
This week I got to visit the Butterfly Conservatory at the Museum of Natural History with my daughter and her classmates for a field trip. The students are studying insects and this exhibit provided an opportunity for them to see living, fluttering, tropical butterflies up close. And guess who we met? The Small Postman butterfly, that’s who!
Small postman butterflies are so beautiful and can be found in Central and South America. Apparently they taste bad. As caterpillars they feast on passion flowers, which fill them with toxic chemicals so predators are not interested. Kind of like that dog repellent that their human namesakes in the USPS carry?
I picked up the book The Mighty Lalouche at our local library, without knowing that the main character, Lalouche, is a postman! In Paris! Matthew Olshan wrote a sweet book with beautiful illustrations by the talented, Sophie Blackall. Check it out.
Its Black history month and while I understand the value of this designation I wish Black history was not annexed to one month of the year but rather, more fully integrated in to how children learn American history. Heritage Box is a subscription service that teaches children Black history year round by delivering monthly, customized care packages with Black history and African geography materials! Books, games, toys, family activities- these packages could be a valuable addition to a child’s understanding and interest in their African heritage.
Ok I am not trying to rush you in to Christmas mode when we are in the glorious days of early autumn but I am just so excited about these newly issued stamps!
If you like them as much as I do and are a Christmas card sender, order them now and then you’ll be all set in December. The one with Charlie Brown looking in to the mailbox? Its meta magic!
This kid. This project. His name is Jacob Cramer and he started Love for the Elderly, an anonymous letter writing project that sends mail to senior citizens. His mom must be proud. If you would like to participate in Love For the Elderly you can get information on their website and Facebook page.
I am working at an arts based summer camp and today the kids collected snails from the garden and created an impromptu snail race all on their own. Love.
My sister sent me these photos with this caption:
In 1913 it was legal to mail children. With stamps attached to their clothing, children rode trains to their destinations, accompanied by letter carriers. One newspaper reported it cost fifty-three cents for parents to mail their daughter to her grandparents for a family visit. As news stories and photos popped up around the country, it didn’t take long to get a law on the books making it illegal to send children through the mail.
That may be true but according to Snopes.com these photos are staged. However there is a great children’s book called Mailing May that is apparently based on a true story. Set in 1914, A little girl travels by postal train to visit her grandmother. Much cheaper than buying a regular train ticket!