About the Book…
As a nice contrast to Out of My Mind (read in the fall of 2010), we read Jean Little’s Mine for Keeps. This was only intentional in the fact that the girls heard the book was about a child with cerebral palsy and said, “Oh, another book about cerebral palsy – let’s read that one!” What can I say, they are of the age that they want to read about someone else’s angst! 🙂
Written nearly 50 years ago by an author who is disabled herself (legally blind), Mine for Keeps still speaks to the universal feelings we all have – fear of trying something new and looking foolish in front of others while doing so, fear of making new friends or losing them, and finding strength in ourselves to navigate new situations.
What We Did…
The discussions for this book really revolved around the questions I made up (Mine for Keeps – Discussion Questions). Not much was available on the web that I could find, even on Jean Little’s website, but it was fun to create my own content for once!
We started out asking everyone’s favourite character. Two great discussions came out of this:
- I said that the mother of Sal, a nine-year old girl who has cerebral palsy and is starting public school, was my favourite character. The group felt that Sal’s mother seemed mean when she appeared unsympathetic to Sal’s crying and sulking about not wanting to go to a new school or get dressed by herself. Funny, as a mother of two girls myself, I didn’t see it that way at all! 🙂 We discussed the reasons why Sal’s mother might act that way and how a parents’ job is to create independent adults even when that process seems cruel.
- Another great discussion came from when someone mentioned Libby as their favourite character. This character is bubbly and befriends Sal on her first day at school. But when I brought up how Libby stopped talking to Sal when Libby’s other friend was jealous and didn’t want to be friends with Sal, the girls started to realize how Libby was a bit cowardly. This led to a discussion on how staying silent about things that aren’t right (like bullying) can be just as bad as doing those things yourself. Very timely given that Toronto just hosted 9,000 high school students committed to stop bullying in their schools.
Since this was our December book, it was great that the book ended with a Dutch celebration of Sinterklass. My husband is Dutch, so we had lots of Sinterklass treats to serve at the meeting. I also created a crossword (Mine for Keeps Crossword) and found Sinterklass crafts and games online at http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/resources/. The game they really enjoyed was Roll for St. Nicholas where they had to race to draw a St. Nicholas first (Mine for Keeps – Roll for St. Nicholas Game)
Although this book was written nearly 50 years ago, we all felt Mine for Keeps still had a lot to teach us. Fear, empathy, and compassion are universal and timeless – and great concepts to teach kids trying to navigate this crazy world!