On March 2nd and 3rd, I had the pleasure of visiting the International Preschool on West 76th Street in Manhattan. Up and down the stairs, busy children were going from one colorful classroom to the next. The school was cheerful, airy, and full of laughter and activity. We were led to the fourth floor gym, which was even more colorful: tables covered with bright tablecloths, balloons, streamers, and most of all BOOKS had transformed this plain white room into a feast for the eye!
One by one, each class was led into the book fair, and the children were seated in a semicircle. For the first time, I read my newly published book WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING: A Lift-the-Flap Book of Time Around the World. The children had lots of questions about the children in the book. As city kids, IPS students were curious about how children live in other parts of the world. What is it like to milk a goat before school, or to carry your breakfast in a bowl on your head?
Many students had family in other parts of the world. Some even recognized places depicted in the book! Again and again we spun the globe on the table to find where different scenes were located. My host, Marie Claire Foss, had graciously brought in her personal international clock to show what time it was on three different continents. WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING is dedicated to Marie Claire not only because she is a wonderful mother and teacher (and friend to my daughter and myself), but because she has family all over the world. Like a three-ring circus, her international clock helps her maintain awareness of time and events around the world.
Also at the fair was my multicultural picture book A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK: A Day of Baby-Carrying Around the World (Gulliver Books, Harcourt Brace, written by Emery Bernhard). This book has been in print for fourteen years! It shows how even today, babies are carried through daily activities in different cultures all over the world. The book is a favorite among natural parenting advocates. I was also proud to introduce for the first time my brand new picture book AROUND THE WORLD IN ONE SHABBAT: Jewish People Celebrate the Sabbath Together. This book also travels all over the world, showing families celebrating this ancient tradition of rest and rejuvenation.
The fair was full of enticing picture books of all shapes and sizes, old and new, funny and sad, some in black and white, some in color. Each child had colored personal shopping bags in which they could take their new books home.
I hope to visit IPS’s other locations in the future, and would love to return to do art and writing activities with the students.
Thanks to the wonderful teachers and staff at IPS who made my visit such a pleasure!