In lieu of a Halloween Parade, my twins’ ultra-politically correct school held a “storybook character parade” this morning (Nov. 1st). As I discussed in my last post, while it’s not a violation of the First Amendment for American public schools to sponsor Halloween activities, I can’t blame our school for wanting to avoid controversy by renaming and repurposing the parade. The controversy relates to Halloween’s Pagan roots, which some claim conflict with their Christian beliefs even though these parades neither endorse a particular religion nor inhibit a person’s ability to practice her own religion. However, to the extent a new name (“character parade”) and a different purpose (promoting literacy) will defuse the controversy, I support the change. In the end, for my bibliophile children, it turned out to be more fun than a typical Halloween parade (though they didn’t like how many pictures I took of them this morning!*).
So, which characters did they choose?
One was a PANDA (not Kung Fu Panda!)
The other was a FOX (not because of Ylvis’ “What Does the Fox Say?”!)
They went as “Stillwater” from Zen Shorts & “the fox” from Fox Tails: Four Fables from Aesop.
Jon J. Muth’s Zen Shorts, published in 2005, is a Caldecott Honor Book that features a panda named Stillwater who befriends three siblings. He tells them stories, two of which are from Zen Buddhist literature and one of which is from Taoism. As the Author’s Note explains, “‘Zen shorts’ are short meditations—ideas to puzzle over—tools which hone our ability to act with intuition.” I love this book, and so do my daughters. It is thought-provoking, calming, and simply beautiful.
Amy Lowry’s Fox Tails: Four Fables from Aesop unites four well-known fables — “The Fox and the Grapes,” “The Fox and the Crow,” “The Fox and the Goat,” and “The Fox and the Stork” — into one story. My daughters, who are already familiar with Aesop’s Fables, really enjoy Lowry’s retelling and her illustrations. The morals of these stories, which the Author’s Note explains in the back for anyone who can’t otherwise figure it out, always spark an interesting conversation with my girls. I was surprised my daughter would want to dress up as the fox, considering how mean he is. She seems to find his bad behavior intriguing. Hmmm. 😉
Overall, while I don’t want to see Halloween disappear at school, this was a nice alternative to a traditional parade of goblins, ghosts, and witches. It’s interesting that my children chose characters from one book related to Buddhism and Taoism and another based on fables authored centuries years before Christianity. I offer no apologies if that offends anyone.
*Pre-parade. I had to go to work, and so my mother went to cheer them on. It’s very nice to have a large extended family in the area!