Many of you know that I am a huge advocate of storytelling for children under the age of 9 and that I personally believe in minimal use of books as it stifles the imagination a bit. However, Tiny and I DO read books which I very carefully select. I prefer books with lifelike, gentle illustrations that are warm and inviting. I like visuals that invite Tiny to still use her imagination as I tell her the story presented on the pages. I look for a storyline that is based on “real life” and not the adventures of cartoon characters. A little whimsy and fantasy is ok so long as it does not involve a story that stretches Tiny too far beyond her developmental readiness.
A while back I received an inviting email from Kathy Parra, author of Love is the Color of a Rainbow. Kathy provided me with a PDF version of her book and asked if I was open to sharing it with my readers. It only took three pages for me to know that this book was something Tiny would love and that it was very deserving of being shared far and wide.
Love is the Color of a Rainbow is a heartfelt story about Willow, a little girl who has been blind since birth, who hears pit-pats of the first summer rain and quickly encourages her Mama to go outside. Mama shares all the colors of a rainbow with Willow through nature and Willow experiences that “Love is the Color of a Rainbow”. The gentle pastel chalk illustrations invite kids to experience nature through their senses to discover the colors of the rainbow.
I asked Kathy to share some insight into why she chose to write about a girl with a disability and in particular, blindness. I also wanted her to share her motivation for tying this story into nature. Kathy was kind enough to share some beautiful insight into how this book came to be:
Since I was four years old I have always known I wanted to write a story and not just a story for me but a story for the world and in a book! And not just any story but a story that would change the way people of all ages would view nature’s world, I wanted to make a difference in how people of all ages saw nature through the eyes of a child. Because through the eyes of a child there is innocence, quietness, unconditional love for all of natures gifts. As a child myself I would sit for hours writing stories on how nature could speak to us if only we listened. Often my writings were about fairies and butterflies in gardens of sunflowers-lupines and poppies where each spoke of their world, the world of nature. I remember the first time watching Dr. Doolittle and thinking that’s me! I love to talk to the animals and the animals talk to me. I remember as I got older those stories still near in my heart is when I began writing once more about children in the garden as I had been exploring and listening to the ever present beauty of nature speaking to me then and now. Finally, in sixth grade I started to share these stories with a girl who was in the Special Needs Classroom next door, who I will call Willow, Willow explained to me that she had been blind since birth, each day I went in there to assist her with her Braille reading, which I might add she so wanted me to learn, but I never did. She would sit flitting her tiny fingers over the bumps in the thin translucent paper at rapid speed and I would pencil scratch my stories just at furiously, one day she asked me “what are you writing?” I told her I like to write stories about nature, she asked me to read them to her, she would delight in my story making and I would delight in her listening, we spent many a lunch hour eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as I read my nature stories.
One day out of the blue Willow took out her pear from her lunch bag, and said “I wish I knew what my pear looked like” “Kathy” she asked “what does a pear look like?” I started with well it’s green on the outside; she said, “what does green look like?” I knew then and there I was to take her in nature to share what the pear looked like, so I took her under a beautiful mulberry tree on the schoolyard as she stood under the tree I took her hand and let her feel the green leaves I said these are leaves and they are green and it is the same color as the outside of the pear, she said oh it is smooth-warm, then I ran her hand over the branch to which would be the sense of the stem of the pear, I said this is the stem and it is a brownish green, oh she said this too feels smooth yet strong, yes-yes! I was excited that she was associating the feel-sense of what I was sharing in a feeling sense, putting feelings to the colors, then I took her to the sand box and ran her fingers through the sand, I said the inside of the pear, it a soft white color yet as you bite into the pear there is just a bit of grit, she ran her fingers through the sand, then taking a bite of pear, she said oh it feels like life, like it has energy, when I feel the sand and then bite the pear I feel life-energy!
Needless to say Willow quickly began to associate most everything in her daily life with a feeling for a color, she even made up her own colors! Willow often told me I was like a lot of colors put together, saying that all those colors were love. In that short amount of time that we spent together I was grateful for her friendship and she for mine, I think we both knew it was transient and as they say a reason- season or a lifetime Willow moved and I went on to Junior High but my love for those interactions and my love for nature have continued into my own daily life-living with my own children. I have encouraged my children to reverence a love for nature, whether it is sitting in the beauty of a flower budding, blooming, to the intricate web of spider, to the hummingbird sipping nectar, or just the simple pleasure of a tree swaying in the wind or delightful joy in all the colors of a rainbow. Nature is one of our greatest teachers as are our children and as a mother I feel if we take a moment in time to listen to nature and our children we will know that in our own senses of all of which we encompass is simply this:
“When we look through the eyes of a child the world becomes what it always is and has been, Love.” – Kathy Parra
I absolutely love this book and feel that all of you will too! The story is uplifting and positive, illustrating that a disability is NOT a detriment but instead a very special gift. The mother-daughter relationship portrayed in the story is reflective of attachment/natural parenting. You do not often find a story where you can actually FEEL the strength of the bond between mother and daughter. Kathy really does an extraordinary job of crafting such a warm relationship based on trust, harmony, and unconditional love. (I am actually teary eyed as I write this because it really is that deep and powerful).
The illustrations by Candace Keach are amazing. They pair perfectly with the tone of the book, adding another layer to an already rich story. Not only do the illustrations draw you in and deepen the impact of the story but they have an organic quality about them that really gives you a sense of calm and peace as you go through the book.
Kathy is a huge lover of nature and is very socially conscious. The book itself is eco-friendly, printed on recycled paper. Kathy also generously donates a portion of all proceeds through her Rainbow Gives Back program. You can actually suggest various organizations where you would like to see donations made. Kathy is most interested in aiding organizations which protect nature, wildlife, and the environment. This makes me feel VERY good about helping Kathy promote her book.
Kathy promises that there are future books in the works! So exciting! I am waiting with baited breath!
And now – the best part! Kathy is generously giveaway one copy of Love is the Color of a Rainbow to a lucky reader! Anyone is the world can enter! How great is that?
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post (be sure to include your email if it is not linked to your profile)! That’s it! One comment. Just tell me why you would like to win! Easy, easy!
But wait! There are MORE ways to win!
Here are all the extra entry options. If you are already doing these, cool. If not, have at it! Just leave me one more comment letting me know if you are doing one or both!
This giveaway opens today, March 7, 2012 and closes March 15, 2012 at 11:59pm PST. Winner will be selected via random.org. I will email you and you will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is selected.
Can’t wait to see if you won? Then head on over the Kathy’s Purchase Page and order a copy today. It is a mere $12.00. Trust me – you will be glad you did!
Questions? Ask away. Otherwise, READY, SET, ENTER!!!!!