As adults, we lead best when we serve as inspiring examples to our children, especially in times of crisis and uncertainty. We lead our children by demonstrating what a loving, caring life involves despite what may seem like insurmountable challenges.
As we experience this world-wide health pandemic, adults can lead by setting examples that our children can follow.
We can energize the famous line, “No man is an island unto itself,” by the English poet John Donne. Parents, families, and caregivers can teach children that the recommended safety measures can be achieved by everyone if we all act responsibly. Librarians, teachers, providers, businesses, and community leaders can show children that healthiness is shared and best expressed by thinking clearly and wisely.
It is our hope, as adults, that our children develop the skills and abilities—such as perseverance, optimism, and determination—that will help them face each new challenge or opportunity with empathy and resiliency.
For example, in Watty Piper’s classic tale, “The Little Engine That Could,” he reinforces the concepts of perseverance, hard work, and goodwill. In other words, it’s all about the little blue engine, who has never been over the mountain and takes a risk to help the children on the other side. She puffs and chugs, “I think I can—I think I can.” As she reaches the top of the mountain, the clown cheers with joy.
This is the ideal time for adults to read this book aloud to children.
What better model of resiliency than America’s spirit after 9/11? In A. B. Curtiss’ book, “The Little Chapel That Stood,” he ties the history of St. Paul’s Church, where George Washington and his family worshipped, to its magnanimous improbable escape from the falling Twin Towers—not a brick out of place. This true story offers an easy way for adults to discuss with their children the importance of courage and resilience.
As an adult, the question is how do you handle yourself when you have a bad day? How do you grapple with being cut into pieces, poked full of holes, torn into scraps, or shredded into strips?
In “Perfect Square,” the main character in Michael Hall’s book of the same name, explains that we do not stay unhappy for long. The red square makes itself into a fountain that babbles and giggles, or into a garden or a park that radiates beauty! It faces a new challenge each day and renews itself by changing color, shape, and design. In this book, Hall has created a brilliant picture book that will inspire children—and adults—to turn problems into opportunities.
Parents and families can find creative ways to instill the capacity to build resiliency and recovery in children through books, while schools and programs are closed.
In addition to an online catalog of great children’s books, the Maryland State Library offers Maryland’s Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar, which is filled with daily activities for parents and families to do together that are enjoyable and educational.
The online version offers printable activity sheets and a video to support each month’s theme, an interactive Seek-n-Find as well as additional links.
It is our hope that the Calendar will bring joy and resiliency day by day to families as they read and explore the calendar’s activities together (most of which can be done at home or outside).
The Maryland Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar project was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.