[I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received.]
A Hand to Hold is an affirming, empowering, and sweet story about how a young girl’s father has always been — and always will be –there for her.
A happy, young, confident girl tells us, “I have always had a hand to hold.” She tells us about how her father was there for her when she came home from the hospital, how he reached out when she took her first steps, how he pushes her in the swing, how he wipes away her tears and tickles her.
She tells us that even though she’s not a baby anymore, she loves to hold her father’s hand — and how, “I’m never scared when I’m holding Daddy’s hand.”
But then the first day of school comes — and she is scared. She knows everything is going to be okay while she’s holding her father’s hand, but when it is time for him to leave — it is difficult for her to let go. She wants to go play with all the toys and the other children, but she’s not ready to let go of her father’s hand.
He then reassures her that, “If you let go of my hand, you can still hold on with your heart. That way I’ll always be with you, even when our hands can’t touch.” It’s a tender moment and an important reminder for people of all ages.
She goes and plays and meets another student — they compare notes about if they cried and who brought them to school. We know she’s going to be okay, because she’s holding her father’s love and assurance in her heart.
It is so wonderful to read a story that lovingly and reassuringly shows us that fathers love their children. (Of course fathers love their children, but it isn’t all that often so overtly expressed and in such a tender way.) Having the narrator tell the story in a first-person point of view lets us see the world from this young girl’s perspective and experience her life for a bit. We get to feel loved, encouraged, scared, and brave with her.
The illustrations have a comforting and warm feel to them and encourage the reader to slow down and enjoy the story. Because the story is written in one perspective and the illustrations are done in a third-person point of view, you get to experience the story in two different ways. You see the world through two pairs of eyes — hers and yours. It’s a wonderful effect and it makes for a richer and more meaningful story.
A Hand to Hold also lets my eldest see what starting kindergarten is like from someone else’s perspective. My son was so excited to start school he didn’t even say good-bye — so this story gave us a great opportunity to see that not all people share his enthusiasm and many will have different reactions to the same situation.
It also lets him see a young black girl and her father living their lives and he gets to share in it for a bit. It gives him an opportunity to experience a story with universal themes of love, new situations, and being brave that is outside of his own gender and skin. It’s hard to think of yourself as anything but the center of the world when you only see yourself reflected. I loved showing him how important this young girl’s experience and perspective is.
A Hand to Hold is published by Rosetta Press which has three objectives. The first one being: “To generate culturally relevant stories that center children who have been marginalized, misrepresented, and/or rendered invisible in children’s literature.” This is so vital to people of all races and genders so that they can see themselves and others represented in all kinds of stories. Children want to see themselves reflected, of course, but they’re also curious and compassionate and want to see what the world is like for others.
I read A Hand to Hold to both of my sons many, many times. Each time we read it, without fail, it changed their typical-rambunctious-crazy energy to a sweeter, gentler tone and after one of the readings, my eldest son declared, “She has such a good dad!” It made me smile.
There is also a picture where one of the children in the young girl’s school is wearing a Patka/Keski Dastaar and my son asked what it was. It gave us a great opportunity to learn. I jumped on the internet and looked it up and we talked about who wears it and why — and I enjoyed the experience so much.
So, go read A Hand to Hold. It’s a wonderful, beautiful, tender slice of life that is a joy to read and share with your children and those you love.
Recommended Ages 3 to 8 (My two-year-old and five-year-old boys love it.) Rosetta Press. February 2016. 40 pages. Paperback. Fiction. ISBN: 978-1530033669
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Where Obtained: I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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