Festivals can light a path through intolerance

3rd December 2004 at 00:00
Festival Time! series

Lighting a Lamp: a Diwali Story. Sweet Dates to Eat: A Ramadan and Eid Story. By Jonny Zucker, illustrated by Jan Barger. Frances Lincoln, pound;9.99 each.

A Child's Eye View of Festivals. By Linda Mort and Katy Jones. Child's Eye Media booklet and video, pound;16.99 + VAT. Tel: 0161 374 5566

On My Own Holidays series Christmas Around the World. By Emily Kelley, illustrated by Joni Oeltjenbruns. Learner Publishing Group, pound;3.99 each

Day of the Dead. By Linda Lowery, illustrated by Barbara Knutson

Hanukkah. By Cathy Goldberg Fishman, illustrated by Mary O'Keefe Young

Ramadan. By Susan Douglass, illustrated by Jeni Reeves

If children are to learn tolerance and respect for other cultures, then we must catch them young. The latest crop of early years resources can help here. Lighting a Lamp and Sweet Dates to Eat, both by Jonny Zucker, are part of the Festival Time! series from Frances Lincoln.

In each case, the celebrations are seen from the point of view of a young child who is watching as the family makes its various preparations.

The text is simple and accessible, and Jan Barger's illustrations are gentle and well suited to the age range and theme. Further information for adults is provided at the back of each book.

Child's Eye Media takesa similar approach with A Child's Eye View of Festivals. This video consists of four mini documentaries that cover Chinese New Year, Diwali, Eid-ul-Fitr and Hanukkah.

In each case we followa child and their family through the celebrations and then watch as the child shares the experience with friends at nursery school.

Each programme is accompanied by a poster telling the story of the festival and there are little booklets for adults that provide further information and follow-up ideas.

The video has benefited from the input of nursery headteacher Linda Mort, and the whole thing has been very carefully designed to meet the learning needs and interests of very young children.

The programmes are divided into short stand-alone sections which can be watched individually or all in one sitting. And the activities are spot on - there is an imaginative mix of songs, recipes, games and dances that are just right for early years groups.

On My Own Holidays is an American series published by Carolrhoda Books. The target audience is six to eight-year-olds and it certainly has an older feel than the other offerings.

The four books that were available for review looked at Christmas round the World, Day of the Dead, Hanukkah and Ramadan. Each one uses a different author and illustrator and, perhaps because of this, the books vary considerably in terms of their style and readability. The two most familiar stories, Hanukkah and Ramadan, are quite competent, although they are far from exciting. But the other two titles, perhaps because they are less familiar, are much more interesting.

Day of the Dead, in particular, provides a fascinating account of an extraordinary festival. This account is very well told and illustrated in a lively comic-strip style which should capture the imagination of young readers.

DINAH STARKEY

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