- The Fam
Last week we had our own unofficial natural disaster in Oregon. Look at this snow! What are we supposed to do with snow? We had trees falling down every where and power outages that lasted for days, and yes, two days off of school.
So while we were snowed in we read about a real natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina.
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes was such a great read aloud book. It is tender story about a girl who is an outsider in her community because she is different. Lanesha is 12 years old, she learns to navigate new friendships and accept her own gifts during an American tragedy. The book is suspenseful and had Raine hanging on my every word. I actually caught her trying to read a head of me while I was reading a loud!
It is a mix of reality and fantasy, as Lanesha’s special gift is that she can see ghosts and her caregiver, Mama Ya-Ya can tell the future– read signs. Both characters are admirable in character and show “fortitude” in the face of several personal tragedies.
The story is sensitively written, and offers a great opportunity to share this event with children that were to young to remember to remember the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina, which have special significance for Raine and I because it hit days after her birth. We laid in bed days on end just watching the news and getting to know one another. Hurricane Katrina and the human tragedy that followed, helped me to appreciate her and cling to her even more in those early days of motherhood.
I’m not sure where to put this in terms of what age it should be read at. I’m conflicted. It is listed as grade 5-8, but I think it was perfect for Raine who is in 1st grade.
I can understand that the topic is sensitive and some might feel it more appropriate for middle school children…the main character is in middle school so that makes sense. This book is not graphic, but does include some heavy topics.
I think you just have to make this decision according to what you are comfortable introducing to your children and according to what your child is able to process. For me personally, I will seek out books that are appropriate in delivery for our girls, but do not avoid these topics. I want them to have a chance to learn empathy and feel genuine gratitude for what they have– and I will continue to hope they will never have to live through anything remotely close to Hurricane Katrina and learn those lessons first hand.
Ninth Ward was awared a Coretta Scott King Author Honor.
Has anyone read this? What did you think? When would you feel comfortable introducing the topic of Hurricane Katrina to your children?
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