Saturday, March 28, 2020

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

I was first introduced to A Chair for My Mother by the PBS television program Reading Rainbow with LaVar Burton. I felt so nostalgic reading it again, but this time with the eyes of a mother. After a fire destroys their home, a girl, her mother and her grandmother must start over in a small apartment with only a few pieces of hand-me-down furniture donated by their neighbors. They have no sofa or soft chairs, only a few hard kitchen table chairs. Her mother works long hours in a diner and longs for a place to rest and put her feet up with she gets home. She brings home a large jar and they begin collecting coins to save up for the perfect armchair for her mother.

When they finally have enough coins to fill the jar, they spend an entire day selecting the absolutely perfect chair. The girl learns the value of working hard to get something you want, and the joy of giving what little you have (her own hard-earned money) to someone you love.

As much about rebuilding a life and the gift of family ties as it is about the chair itself, the story is touching from beginning to end. Neighbors and family come together to help the trio in a time of crisis. Matriarchal bonds are strengthened and small things are more appreciated. The illustrations are truly beautiful, colorful with soft lines and warm faces. A Chair for My Mother has won many awards, including the Caldecott Honor Book 1983. Touching and uplifting, this is a great read for any child.

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