With the passage of time as individuals we tend to forget the past; our mistakes, our battles and tragedies. But life is like that; in some ways in order to continue to live and go on with our daily lives- we need to forget, lest we become mired in sadness and unable to push forward and live in the present. However when it comes to the men and women of our armed forces; the ones who since 9/11 have been embroiled in a battle with an enemy who at every twist and turn seems intent on crushing our democracy and our way of life, it is incumbent upon us, on a daily basis, to bear and honor their scars and sacrifices.
Therefore I thank our great forefathers for instituting holidays like Memorial Day, which although some may simply consider a weekend to get busy applying suntan lotion, firing up the grill and playing Frisbee, ultimately provides us with an opportunity to honor those men and women in the armed forces who continually sacrifice life and limb on a daily basis.
This weekend parents can sit down with their children to read The Flag Keeper by Stacy Juba and illustrated by Larry Drumtra, either in softcover or on an e-reader in the days leading up to Memorial Day weekend or as a wind-down bedtime activity that night after the parties and BBQ’s.
The PLOT: The Flag Keeper is an educational picture book with illustrations of a bear family. Elizabeth and her dad always raise and lower their American flag together, but when he leaves on a business trip, their flag is stuck in the garage. Elizabeth is determined to prove that she is responsible enough to display the flag herself, following all the rules of flag etiquette.
Why we love it: The Flag Keeper engages children through colorful and gentle teddy bear illustrations and through a fiction story about a child determined to solve her problems all by herself. It is unique as it includes several discussion questions and flag facts at the end that reinforce the flag etiquette information woven into the story. Parents can read the story aloud, and then talk further about flag etiquette. For example, kids learn that an upside down flag is the sign of an emergency, that flags should only be left out with a spotlight, that there are certain proper ways to dispose of an old and tattered flag, and that there is even a flag on the moon. The book is also unique as it was written and illustrated by a father and daughter, and tells the story of a fictional father and daughter.
Age Appeal: Three to seven.
Cost: The paperback edition retails for $11.99, but the author’s web site above has a coupon code to buy it for $7.99 plus shipping. Also available for 99 cents for Kindle, Nook, Sony, iPad, and other e-readers.
What will kids go gaga for: Young children will love the teddy bear illustrations and whimsical pictures. Kids will also enjoy the activity ideas in the book. One of the activity ideas is for parents to print out a flag coloring sheet from the Internet and to have kids color it, and then to teach children how to correctly fold a flag using the instructions in the book. If parents have a real flag, they can fold a real flag instead.
Parent Perks: It’s a nice way for parents and children to bond and connect. Not only can they read a patriotic story that has a tie-in to Memorial Day, they can also use the discussion questions to open up a dialogue and teach their children about flag etiquette and the U.S. flag code, a topic that is often overlooked in schools and in other books. All of the material has been vetted by the national American Legion and national VFW Headquarters, so it is all accurate. Families that have a relative who is serving in the military or who has served in the past can talk about patriotism and what the flag represents to their family on a more personal level. Parents who are Girl Scout or Boy Scout leaders may also want to share the book with their troops later in the year. Families with flag poles might be inspired to begin a new family tradition, raising and lowering the flag together each day.
Drawbacks: The paperback edition can be ordered by any bookstore, however, parents won’t find it there unless they special order it. It is readily available through Amazon, B&N.com, and through the author’s web site. For the digital version, children will most appreciate the illustrations on a color e-reader such as a Nook Color or iPad, though it can also be read on black and white Kindles and other black and white e-readers.
Overall: Reading The Flag Keeper is a terrific way for parents and kids to spend time together and enhance their celebration of Memorial Day. It helps parents to keep their children reading and learning in the summer months, and moms and dads will even learn something themselves. The book can also be pulled out at other times of year, such as The Fourth of July, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, and Flag Day.
Information: http://stacyjuba.com/blog/books-2/childrens-picture-books/ for reviews, a book trailer and retail links.