This week's pick was a raccoon puppet with the New York Times #1 Bestseller, The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn. As I silently scanned the Foreword, I noticed that the story is described as one "for any child who confronts a difficult situation," one that provides "reassurance" and "confidence to cope."
"What is the source of conflict and insecurity?" I wondered, as I turned the front pages to begin reading the story to my two children tucked close to me on the couch.
Chester Raccoon stood at the edge of the forest and cried.The illustration on the facing page shows a poignant raccoon kit with tear drops budding from his eyes.
"I don't want to go to school," he told his mother. "I want to stay home with you. I want to play with my friends. And play with my toys. And read my books. And swing on my swing. Please may I stay home with you?"
We are all looking at the touching picture, when my first-grader pipes up, "They don't know about homeschooling in this book."
The book delivers what it promises. It's a sweet story that reminds us we all can be anchored in love and bravely face new challenges. And for many families, going to school is either an unavoidable reality or the preferred option for parent and child alike. For others it may constitute an unnatural and unnecessary separation, one I am thankful to avoid.
At the end Mrs. Raccoon, along with her kit, finds comfort. I suspect she feels sad to send her little one away. I would be sad, too. I want my little ones to stay home with me, playing and reading and learning together all day. And that's just what we do.