Simbolei Community Assistance Association

Archive for the ‘picture books’ Category

Dealing with Disappointment: The Right Book Can Help

Monday, November 11th, 2019

This past Sunday, I was asked to present the children’s portion of our worship service. I decided to share one of Simbolei’s best of the year picture book selections, Saturday by Oge Mora.


Saturday is the story of Ava and her mother, who fill every Saturday with special activities. On one particular Saturday, however, every planned activity results in disappointment. The library storytime is canceled, the park is crowded and so on. As Ava and her mother bounce back from each disappointment, the text repeats a coping technique. Ava and her mother take a deep breath “whew”  and the mother repeats, “Today will be special. Today will be splendid. Today is Saturday.”  In the end, despite repeated disappointments, the day is splendid as Ava and her mother recognize that being together is what makes the day truly special.

This book meets all the criteria we use to choose our best picture book selections. The text is clear, understandable and enjoyable to read for both adults and children. The artwork is gorgeous, using multimedia collage to create a sense of movement and excitement. The characters are people of color, allowing children of all races to feel validated and recognized in the story. And finally, while the story is simple, it touches on deeper themes and ideas.

When I read the book to the children in worship, they were enthralled. I asked them if they could relate to the idea of having a plan for something fun and exciting that turned out to be disappointing. One little boy mentioned that sometimes we wait and wait for snow to come and when it does, it gets in our mouth! What a disappointment!

Picture books are more than entertainment and they are more than an exercise in reading. Through art and carefully crafted text, a high quality picture book functions as more complex fiction does for adults, as a mirror and an exploration of the world around them. When children identify with the feelings and experiences of fictional characters, they are learning to empathize and to see feelings and ideas in symbolic terms. They are entering the literary traditions of human culture. To me, it is a great honor to be part of this process as a teacher and as a literacy volunteer through Simbolei’s literacy outreach programs.

Saturday and our other yearly selections will be available for purchase at the Lansing Peace Education Center Alternative Holiday Sale November 15 and 16 at Edgewood United Church and also at the Presbyterian Church of Okemos Alternative Christmas Gift Sale on December 8 at Presbyterian Church of Okemos. Simbolei receives 30% of the purchase price of each book. If you would like to purchase any of these books but cannot attend the sales, please send us an email at and we can arrange to mail the books to you. Happy book shopping!



The Great Rift Valley is part of a huge tectonic rift in the earth's crust that also created the Red Sea and the valley of the Jordan River.

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