Category Archives: Culture

Book Review: Cradle Me

Cradle Me
Cradle Me by Debby Slier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This board book has several features which earn it high ratings and a place in my ESL classroom: It features photos of children in their cradleboards from almost a dozen Native American nations. The first page encourages readers to say each word (smiling, thinking, sleepy) in their own language. The words themselves are state-of-being words that help beginning students with self-expression and communicating needs and wants.

Perhaps most importantly: although this book is clearly a celebration of an education about Native cultures, it does not separate them from every other culture’s life. Many of my ESL students (and perhaps too many US-born students) think that Native American cultures are a thing of the past, not a part of the world today. Books that focus on the historic contributions of Native Americans, while having an important place on an educator’s bookshelf, may also accidentally help perpetuate that belief. The approach of Cradle Me is an important balance, showing readers from all cultures that Native American children are important simply as children, with both modern lives and long-standing traditions, children who can be happy or sad or thoughtful, without always being a monolithic group who spend their time showing Europeans how to grow food or find the Pacific Ocean. Instead, choosing one thing many cultures have in common also allows readers to see the differences between them.

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Happy Labor Day!

Labor Day is a holiday created to honor the contributions of workers.  For some people, it is a time to remember the accomplishments of workers’ unions, specifically.

(Art by Ricardo Levins Morales.)

The National Education Association has compiled a series of resources for learning about Labor Day.

Personally, I am always drawn to the history of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory for three reasons: (1) I am interested in fashion history, (2) I am interested in women’s rights, and (3) I was born on March 25, the same day as the tragedy.  If the Triangle Factory story is interesting to you, too, Margaret Peterson Haddix wrote an interesting historical fiction novel about that event called Uprising.  Libraries are closed today for the holiday, but you can check the book out tomorrow!

More popularly, of course, it marks the cultural end of summer (fashion experts used to instruct us to only wear the color white during the summer, between Memorial Day and Labor Day).  Most schools begin the new school year this week.  Stores have lots of sales.  And I visit the beach for that one time a year when I am willing to get a sunburn.

Friday the 13th

Today is Friday the 13th. In American culture, 13 is an unlucky number (7 is lucky), and Friday the 13th is especially bad. cloud hosting info In fact, there is a series of horror films named after this unlucky day. Friday used to be considered an unlucky day in general, but that has mostly been forgotten, perhaps because the invention of the weekend has made people much happier about Friday!

Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13. The word comes from Greek: tris = three; kai = and; deka = ten; phobia = fear. It has inspired some strange efforts by hotels, airlines and others to avoid that number. Next time you are on an elevator in a tall building, look to see if the numbers jump from 12 to 14.

Friggatriskaidekaphobia and paraskevidekatriaphobia are less-well known words that both mean the fear of Friday the 13th.

What is your lucky – or unlucky – number?