Monday, September 30, 2013

Laura Ingalls, Little House and the power of rewriting with little ones

Last weekend I spent time with my wife and a few friends in the country, listening to the first rainfall and basking in its extraordinary light. Morning cups of coffee were accompanied by episodes of "Little House on the Prairie," watched with a five-year-old friend.

Azalea, who likes to be called Half-Pint and pretend she's drawing water from the well, was profoundly affected by the sad and sometimes scary circumstances of the characters, especially the post-Emancipation Proclamation decisions posed by Solomon. This young African American boy had to choose between his own aspirations for an education (the only black child to attend the one-room schoolhouse) and returning to his family and their sharecropper life in the fields.

I described Solomon as being 'torn' between going to school and going home, to which Azalea affirmed: "He has two pieces." After shedding some tears along with the entire Ingalls family, my young friend suggested we write the story down. It's a fascinating process to see a kindergartener's mind at work on all the points of storytelling -- pulling out the most salient points and ordering them for effect -- even with its fairytale ending that speaks for a sense of hope in the face of injustice.

Here's the recap I typed on my laptop (a direct narration) and the clipart she chose to illustrate it:

The Decision of Solomon

Solomon left home to go to school in Walnut Grove. He stayed with the Ingalls. Solomon’s older brother peeked in the room to come and get him. His Ma made Solomon a present. It was a shirt or a scarf. Then Solomon started to have tears in his eyes. He had to leave. 

Miss Beadle, Laura, Solomon, Mary and maybe some of the other class were crying. Pa and Ma were crying. But they all lived happily ever after at their own house.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...