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Day 145 – A Chair for My Mother

Today we finally got to a book we had originally selected to read a little bit closer to Mothers’ Day – a classic, Caldecott honor storybook originally published in 1982 called “A Chair for My Mother” by Vera B. Williams. Full of vibrant, exuberant illustrations, “A Chair for My Mother” is a simple but inspiring story that warmed our hearts.chair

Little Rosa’s mother works as a waitress at the Blue Tile Diner, where Rosa also makes a little bit of money after school by cleaning and refilling salt, pepper, and ketchup containers. They live in a small apartment with Rosa’s grandmother, where the three were forced to move after their house burned to the ground. Although friends and family worked together to help them furnish their apartment, they are still without a big chair or a sofa. The only place in their apartment to rest tired feet after a long day of work is one of the hard kitchen chairs.

In order to remedy this situation, Rosa’s mother brings home a big glass jar – the biggest she can find – to help them save up for the biggest and best chair ever (at least, that is Rosa’s expectation). Rosa, her mother, and her grandmother gather any spare change they have at the end of the day and put it into the jar. Eventually, when they have succeeded in filling the entire jar, they count out all the change and find that they have enough to buy a new chair!

Rosa counts out the coins with her mother, wraps them and takes them to the bank, where the coin rolls are exchanged for $10 bills (!). While shopping for their new chair, Grandma says she feels like Goldilocks trying all the chairs…until they find the perfect one. It’s big enough that they can all sit together, and – best of all – when Rosa and her mother sit down together to read at night, her mother can reach up and turn off the light without getting up.

This is a lovely story. The narrative and the riot of color on every page help to convey a sense of hope and resiliency; that by working together, Rosa has every confidence that her family will achieve their goal. I also liked the way in which Rosa’s neighbors and family are so supportive throughout the story. The very best part, however, is the thought of sitting down in that wonderful, massive, comfortable chair at last, snuggling up with the most important people in the world, and not even having to get up to turn off the light. That’s priceless.