It's amazing to read these stories with children aged 6-9 and talk about what the characters do and why. This affirmation of our children's natural empathy and desire to share is easily translated into a trip to the food kitchen to drop off cans of Campbell's Chunky Soup. Now you are giving the gift of a lifetime of sharing with family and community.
Much of the series centers on Mama, a woman of abundant love and wisdom. Mama patiently works all day long, putting three meals a day on the table, cleaning, washing, shopping, sewing, ironing, and talking to the children. Many, many chapters in this series describe the scrapes the children get into (dreamy Charlotte forgets to pay her subway fare, independent Henny grumbles over chores, gentle Sarah refuses to eat her lunch), and in many cases, we learn how Mama chooses to handle her children with warmth, support, and common sense.
Again, it's utterly amazing to read these stories with children aged 6-9 and discuss the behavior of the children and Mama's response. You learn so much about you children's feelings about being a child, and what they seek from you. It really opens the doors of communication and understanding. Now you have given yourself and your child the gift of a life of honest and trusting discussion about the challenges you face together.
The all-of-a-kind family is so enchanting because in everything they do, they seek to love, understand, accept, support, and help each other.As Mama says, being an all-of-a-kind family means being close and loving and loyal. No one feels poor when they have that, and indeed, it is in this that our riches lie, the wealth that we can take with us. To read these books with our children is to give the gift of time, the gift of family, and the gift of love. Add that to all that other great stuff I mentioned, and you are the champion gift-giver. And it cost you nothing at all.
Beth Davies-Stofka teaches courses on comparative religion and the philosophy of religion. She has also been an online columnist and critic and contributes regularly to the Patheos site.