Given the last year, I’m not currently feeling proud of much in our country. But, I want my sons to grow up with a desire to make our country and world better. I want them to see the beauty in our world. I want them to find things to appreciate in our country and fight for those things. The Fourth of July is not something to celebrate for many people who still don’t feel free in this country. I’m aware that I’m raising two white boys- the privilege is apparent. But, I’m hoping to raise two white boys who will appreciate the diversity in our country, who will respect all human beings, and who will fight for what they believe in and fight for those who are not being treated equally.
We’re going to celebrate the Fourth of July. Part of this journey is figuring out what we want our family traditions to be and I definitely want the 4th of July celebration to be a tradition. I want to see fireworks and show my boys how to use sparklers and have BBQs. I want them to celebrate this country and as they grow up, I can only hope that they’ll want to make it better. I will not tell them that we’re celebrating freedom. We’re celebrating our diversity, our friends and family.
I had been looking for a good book for the holiday and had been having trouble finding something that really captured how I want to celebrate it. But the local bookstore came through again with the perfect book- Blue Sky White Stars (affiliate) by Sarvinder Naberhaus and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. The author’s words are few, very poetic, but so thoughtful and inspiring and I think it’s a beautiful tribute to the United States. It shows our history as a nation of immigrants, our diversity and our ability to unite and demonstrate strength.
The illustrator, Kamir Nelson, wrote in a concluding note,
“With each painting, I was inspired to remind readers of the resilience of American principles, and that as we continue to push forward, our strength lies in our willingness to embrace our differences. I hope this work will always remind us that our ever-evolving country was forged by- and for- people from all walks of life and every background, and that our future as a nation hinges on Abraham Lincoln’s enduring admonition that, ‘a house divided cannot stand.’”
This books gives so many starting points for some thoughtful conversations with children. For my three-year-old, I’m just happy that it shows some diversity alongside American history. There is a drawing of people marching for Civil Rights and Bodhi asked what they were doing. I was actually caught off guard a bit. I’ve thought about how I want to talk with Bodhi about racism when he’s older, but I didn’t really consider the baby steps that come before those bigger conversations. What do you tell an almost three-year-old? I told him that they all wanted the same thing and someone didn’t want to give it to them. It was really important so they all worked together to get it. We talked about how everyone looked different- different ages, colors of skin, and gender. I told him that the differences are what makes us special and that’s what makes us stronger. He seemed content with that answer and I was too. For now.
The author’s website gives a lot of information about herself and the book if you’re interested in learning more: https://sarvinder.wixsite.com/blue-sky-white-stars.
Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus (affiliate)