My husband is a city guy and I am a country girl. We are the perfect paradox of parents for our son. Our backgrounds and perspectives on life shape what we teach and model to our son. My husband swells his chest as we drive the snowy streets of the “Chi”. He tells JohnJohn how Chicago is the mecca for jazz, rhythm, and blues. He explains the history and beauty of Michagan Ave. At an early age, it was important for JohnJohn to know the importance of what it means to have roots in Chicago. My husband helps him to understand that he comes from a heritage of visionaries, pioneers, and dreamers. I however, grew up in small, southern, college town. Everybody knows everybody, greens are meant to be cooked on Sunday; and family before everything . Tradition is what I model to my son. I teach him to have manners; to be a gentleman and hold the door; and to care about your neighborhood. In the spirit of embracing diversity, subways transits, jazz, and collard greens must coexist for my son. We are as different as the communities that we come from. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena illustrated by Christina Robinson teaches the lesson of community ,diversity, and acceptance.
Little CJ and his grandmother are taking the bus from church to the neighborhood Soup Kitchen. On the bus, he meets very new and exciting people; the old woman with curlers, a blind man with a spotted dog; and a guitar player, just to name a few. The journey ends at the neighborhood Soup Kitchen.
The book speaks to the diversity of community and community acceptance. Never judge an area by its appearance. There is beauty in every place that people call home. CJ wants to travel in a car; however, according to his grandmother, traveling on a bus that “breathes fire” is far more exciting. On the bus, CJ meets a lot of people that are drastically different, but it’s this casual ride through the neighborhood that unifies the characters. The old woman comfortably sitting next to the young man with tatoos captures this message perfectly. The Black and White males sharing an ipod also speak to this theme of community. Grandmother introduces CJ to the blind man who “watches the world with his ears”. In this story, not being able to see is percieved as a gift; with your eyes it is easy to misjudge and misunderstand, but with your ears, you are charged to listen and understand. As CJ and his grandmother approach the Soup Kitchen, nothing about the picture illustrates a place for those deemed less fortunate. The Soup Kitchen is a place for people of all genders, colors, and backgrounds to eat a meal together. The dinner tables illustrate a tone of dignity, kindness and togetherness. There is beauty in neighborhoods and communities that are very different from our own. I want JohnJohn to embrace the differences and understand that community is what brings people of every home together.
Living beyond the story
- Take a trip with your iittle genius to a different neighborhood, community or city than your own. What exciting things do you see?
2. Change your mode of transportation. Instead of driving, walk, ride a bike, or even take the bus. Point out to your little genius the different types of people that you notice.
3. Bring your family or friends from your community together for a meal. Invove your toddler in serving and eating in this meal.
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