Tuesday, December 19, 2006

When political correctness meets a child

In my library we (by which I mean I) do a book club for lower elementary school students. The kids are ages 5-8 and we read a simple chapter book. The youngest ones, well I suspect their parents read it to them, but that is just fabulous. We meet twice a month. There is some book discussion, a game, an activity or craft, snack, etc. It's a ton of fun and I love it. For the last discussion we were talking about holiday traditions, and I was being my typical librarian politically correct self and saying "Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa". One little girl (interuptted) asked, "What is Kwanzaa?" I was focused on the child whose turn it was and so didn't answer in time. Another child answered explaining Kwanzaa thusly, "I think it is something vegetarians don't do." I was laughing too hard at first to correct her. One of the kids present does celebrate Kwanzaa so I asked him to explain it. His explanation: "we go to this place and they talk for a long time and then they light a candle; I don't like it, it's boring." I added some explanation about the candles and the symbolism of African-American heritage and then wisely steered the conversation away. Fortunately my Jewish attendee had more fond memories of Hanukkah to share, and my Muslim boy talked cheerfully about Ramadan (yes it is not in December this year, but equal time), and then we had some happy Christmas stories. It's a great group, fairly diverse, and fun. And now you know that Kwanzaa is for vegetarians, carnivores, and omnivores alike!

Cross posted various places in other blogs.

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