In my teaching career, I’ve noticed that talking about or celebrating particular holidays was always an “iffy” thing. The apprehension always came from a wonderful place, as teachers never wanted any child to feel excluded if they highlighted a holiday that some did not celebrate. Upon reflection, I realised that children come to us excited to talk about the holidays and events they experience at home. The classroom should be a safe space to express this and dig deeper too! There’s no reason why we have to remove or ignore celebrations. All children can be involved, sharing what they and their families celebrate at home. Parents can even come to the classroom to expand on these investigations and perhaps lead to an activity that relates to the celebration.
This type of experience can really help us to embrace the self, the classroom community, and the world at large. I always love the idea of a group or service coming up with their own special type of event too. This really fosters some critical and creative thinking on what the group feels is important to them while considering and constructing what the tangible celebration would look and feel like. I’ve seen children break up into sub-groups and take on various roles to bring their unique celebration to life, which can be literally anything and everything. It’s a really beautiful experience that can support inclusivity for all.
About Celebration Babies and how it can be read to young children
Celebration Babies is book number two in my “Everyday Babies” series. This series really embraces diversity, inclusivity and connection-building. When I say “connection-building,” I like to think of this description as a “mirror” and “window” experience, meaning children can see their own experiences in a book (mirror) while looking out (window) and appreciating those who may be different from themselves.
So I figured, what better way to touch upon diversity and inclusivity than taking a joyful trip around the world, exploring children of various cultures and abilities, and learning more about different holidays and events along the way!
Celebration Babies is meant to grow with little ones, so I think it works best for children ages 3-7. For the young children, the reader can focus on the main sentence (e.g. “March in the Rio Carnival Parade) and discuss the images. As children grow older, they may be more interested in listening to or reading the explanatory paragraph that can be found with each celebration. This book can also act as a great basis to ignite a deeper investigation of various holidays, events, and cultures found all around the world.
Explore familiar and less-familiar celebrations
Back to the mirror-window concept, I wanted to blend familiar and lesser-known events: some religious holidays and other non-religious ones. Hopefully, there is something for just about anyone! Events include Chun Jie (Chinese New Year), Rio Carnival, Te Matatini, Holi, Hanami, Ramadan, Earth Day, Kwita Izina, Halloween, Powwow, Dia de Los Muertos, Yee Peng, Hanukkah, Christmas, and last but not least, birthdays!
You can follow Stephanie on her Facebook page @cuddlebugbooks123
You can purchase a copy of her book via Amazon: https://www.amazon.com.au/Celebration-Babies-Highlighting-Toddlers-Children/dp/1736518356
Read more Amplify! articles from Stephanie Seidler:
The School Bus Project: Explaining the value of process vs. product
From bubbles to bears and cats to coffee — the endless value of emergent curriculum
Stephanie Seidler is an experienced childhood educator and author based in Brooklyn, NY. Over the course of the last decade, she’s worn many professional hats such as Teacher, Director, and Instructional Leader, while also leading professional development sessions and workshops for teachers and parents.
She’s been particularly inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, mainly because of its profound respect for children, viewing them as competent, capable, and worthy enough to be co-constructors in their education.