by Kelly Starling Lyons & Daniel Minter
“Hand in hand, we create a ring inside the house Pa built for Granny. Heart to heart, we share what we’re thankful for. ‘Nothing is more important than family,’ Granny says, tearing up as she looks at every face. Amens all around.”
A beautifully illustrated & written story celebrating the love of family & tradition. The book also touches on important elements of Black History & the strong connection to family that exists within this community.
Talk About It
- Can you relate to Lil Alan’s experience of getting up early to go on a road trip to visit family? Have you ever had the feeling of being so excited to see your grandparents, cousins, etc that it’s hard to sit still or sleep?
- What do you notice about this extended family as they see each other again? Talk about how there is love and playfulness between them. Is this something you notice about your own family? This is a great chance to talk about how all families, regardless of skin color, share a common bond of loving one another and wanting to be happy and live wonderful lives.
- Have you ever heard of the song “His Eyes Is on the Sparrow?” Explain that A form of religious music with roots in African American culture dating back to enslavement. The word gospel means good news. More is an important part of Black history and The traditions, customs, arts, and achievements of a particular nation or group of people. More.
- Have you heard of Langston Hughes? Explain that he was a poet best known for his ability to give insight into Black life in American between the 1920s-60s.
- Why do you think Pa made sure to tell Lil Alan, “Look to your left. Look to your right. Everything you see is ours.”? You may need to guide your child through thinking about history and the fact that at one point this very land was taken care of by those who were The correct way to talk about slavery. It shows that slavery was something forced upon people. (No one ever chose to be enslaved. In fact, they were never given a choice.) It also reminds us to think about who all of these people were in their lives with family and friends. More. For a long time in America’s history Black people were not paid for their work; let alone allowed to own land. What does this make your child think or feel?
- Has anyone ever told you to “think with your heart?” What do you think Pa meant by this advice?
- What does Lil Alan mean when he says he thinks about walking in the footsteps “of our people and the Native people long before?” Why do you think the author chose to mention Native people? Talk about the fact that the United States was formed from land taken from people already living here. This is a part of history that doesn’t get discussed enough, but should.
- You’ve already talked about enslavement; now explain A set of laws in the South in the late 1800s-early 1900s that kept Black people separate from Whites in places like schools, transportation, restaurants, etc. The laws were also used to keep Black citizens from voting. They were named after an African American character in a song. The laws were made illegal with the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. More to your child.
- What do you think Lil Alan was thinking and feeling when he found the words to express his love to Granny?
- What did you learn about Lil Alan’s family? How are they like your family? How are they different? Talk about core ways in which all families are alike as well as the fact that there is something special that exists within a family that they only share with one another and that is amazing.
- Imagine you could plan a family reunion; think about all the details. Who would you invite? What city would it be in? What kinds of “love-made dishes” would you want served? How would you express your love for your family?
- Take the time to learn more about A form of religious music with roots in African American culture dating back to enslavement. The word gospel means good news. More. Read about it: The History of Gospel Music; African American Gospel; or Gospel Music for Kids. Listen to a Famous version of “His Eyes Is on the Sparrow.
- Learn more about Langston Hughes. Watch: Who is Langston Hughes-Fun Facts for Students or Kid Authors-Langston Hughes. Listen to some of his poems: Life is Fine; Mother to Son; or The Weary Blues.
- Take the phrase “think with your heart” and make a list of all of the ways in which this should inspire people to think and act. Turn this in to a sign you can post in your house or a poem and share it with others. Maybe challenge other children/families to come up with their own list. What are the ways you and your family need to grow in order to live up to these ideas you created?