Everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day
Celebrate the holiday by reading with your kids! Here are some charmin' tales of leprechauns, red-headed elves and girls named Fiona.
Ah, St. Patrick’s Day, a time for everyone to claim a cousin from two or three generations back who hailed from the old sod of Erin. Don’t worry, everyone gets to be Irish for St. Patrick ’s Day--we’re generous like that. If you’re looking for a way to explain the mad fun, sure and begorrah, swing by the Niles Public Library to pick up a few picture books.
A Fine St. Patrick’s Day, by Susan Wojciechowski (see, I told you everyone gets to be Irish for St. Patrick’s Day), gives center stage to a red-headed elf. However, the real star is young Fiona Riley. She lives in the town of Tralee, and helps the townspeople come up with a brilliant idea to decorate for the high holiday. You see, every year the city of Tralee tries to beat the town of Tralah, their rival, in an annual contest to see which town does the best job decorating for St. Patrick’s Day. In the middle of executing their grand plan, a wee visitor arrives and asks for help. Fiona is the first to volunteer, and soon the entire town pitches in to help. I love books like this; a fun story, and a great lesson accompanied by beautiful illustrations.
The Leprechaun’s Gold, by Pamela Edwards, is another tale of a good deed that is rewarded by the island’s famous wee inhabitants. Old Pat, the humble village harpist, and Young Tom, his braggart pupil, set out to enter the King’s Harping Contest. Along the way, Tom ignores someone’s cries for help, where Pat answers the call. And forgive me, folks, for picking a tale where the gray haired elder is the champion. We can’t ignore the value of the experiences that brought about those gray hairs, now can we?
Another way to enrich your understanding of Irish culture is to explore a few folk tales. Fair, Brown & Trembling, by Jude Daly, is an Irish version of Cinderella. The two older sisters, Fair and Brown, won’t allow the youngest, Trembling, to join them at church on Sundays as they fear her beauty would bring instant marriage proposals. Then who would take care of them, dear readers? The old hen wife happens across the sad Trembling one Sunday morning, and insists that she go to church. She uses her magic to produce a beautiful gown and slippers, and a transformed Trembling makes her way to her public debut, sound familiar? Feel free to ask your wee ones what they think will happen next. Making predictions is a great skill to model, and a layup when they are already familiar with the story line.
However you mark the occasion of March 17, consider the following Irish offer of good luck: May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. We at the Niles Public Library would add: May many books fill your child’s world with wonder.