My heart is poetry, but my world is explained by science. I want my daughter to know that both are important in our family. There is no better book to show her how science and poetry can co-exist than Debra Frasier’s On the Day You Were Born.
OTDYWB is twenty years old this year, and it remains a favorite of many families and a popular baby shower gift. The text imagines a world in which the animals and the earth all celebrate the birth of a child, and along the way it introduces scientific ideas gently to even the youngest of readers/listeners.
My family owns the board book version, which ends with the birth of the baby, but the hardcover includes several pages of back matter that gives more information on the natural phenomena covered in the story/poem from gravity and tides to photosynthesis and more. There are so many possibilities with this book. It could be a poetic look at a baby’s birth or a jumping off point for a larger discussion about nature.
The poem really came alive for my preschooler as we watched it performed by the Heart of the Beast Pupper Theater at a local library recently. She was delighted at the baby spinning on the earth and the interactive elements of the show (water and confetti were splashed on the audience). I appreciated that the performers introduced the various unusual intruments they used (harmonica, zyls, slide whistle, etc) to the young audience at the end of the performance. They also talked about how they made the puppets with simple materials–cardboard, paper mache–so that kids could try to make similar creations themselves.
If you have the opportunity to see the performance, I highly recommend it. Or put on your own performance with these stage directions from the author’s web site. I also really like the idea of creating your own version of the book. What was happening in nature on the day your child was born? Was it day or night? What season was it? Look for opportunities to connect books (not to mention science, nature, and poetry) to your child’s personal experience.
This post is part of a series inspired by my appearance on Atheist Talk where I spoke about children’s books for secular families. These posts are not intended to be taken as insulting to my religious friends in any way. I merely want to empower secular families to encourage their children to engage with the world through books. Read more: Behind the Scenes of Atheist Talk and there is more to come.