Thinking Outside of the Box
About The Author
Robbin Miller is a former little league baseball player after it became legal in 1974. She played from 1975-1977 after enduring boos and negative comments such as "Go home to play with dolls," on the field. Robbin is a mother of a 8 year old boy playing little league baseball this summer. Robbin is an author of "Playgroup Time," and "Three Best Friends," picture books promoting inclusion and diversity for all children with abilities.
This week, my son, EJ, and I are on vacation from our regular structured routine during the work week. While some families plan months in advance for their vacations, I just planned it from the cusp and leaf of faith. EJ attended one event at the local library to honor J.K.Rowling’s Birthday. The children ate homemade delicious cupcakes while watching the first Harry Potter movie on the big screen with an amazing sound system. We watched half of it as EJ already saw the full movie at home with us. His intention was to eat three cupcakes and then leave after watching the athletic event in the movie.
The next day, I took EJ to the local cable access TV station to hear three children’s book authors (including myself) read their picture books and/or poems on the air. What a wonderful and joyous experience for EJ to listen to each author read their works from their hearts while the program was being taped for TV.
The first author, Lorraine Gilmore who wrote “Matilde,” talked about the reason why she wrote her book twenty years ago. The book is about a donkey who owned by a man who is not very nice to her. Matilde’s owner constantly puts her down and says negative things to her that are hurtful and mean. One day a person comes by to ask the owner on how much he wants for his donkey. After two offers from the same man, the owner sells Matilde to him as it is a birthday present for his daughter who is six years ago. Over time, Matilde receives lots of love and praise from the little girl which makes her feel good inside. Lorraine wrote the book to promote kindness to others as she did not receive it from someone in her life many years ago. The theme tugs my heart as I can empathize with the author as well as with many others who experienced unkind people treating them badly. When there is darkness, there is always a speck of light that shines through us with kindness from other people in our lives.
The second author/singer/songwriter, April McCarthy read a few of her poems from her book, “Old Bear and Friends,” and sang one of her songs on the air. EJ liked hearing this second author sing and read a few of her poems with rhyme and rhythm. Ms. McCarthy signed her book and gave it to EJ to enjoy at home. A very kind thing to do for a little boy. EJ thanked her very much.
EJ and I enjoyed telling the story, “Three Best Friends,” in a comical and natural flow. We did not rehearse before the show as I expected EJ and I to read a few pages of my book one at a time. In the beginning, EJ, surprisingly, just took the book from my hands and excitingly started telling the story as he turned the first few pages of the book. He referred to Max as “wheelchairing” with his friends to the new playground.” While I use the term for Max as “pushing his wheelchair,” EJ’s creative young mind said the term, “wheelchairing instead.” I gently took my book back to read two short pages of the main character, Max, getting his wheelchair stuck in the wood chips of the new community playground.” EJ blurts out quickly as he turns the next page, “Max is crying and feels sad”. I turned the next page and briefly read how Max is befuddled on what a “budget” means in paying for a playground not inclusive for all children with abilities.
EJ quickly takes the book from me again and turns to the page where the two bullies taunt Max for being different from the other children in the playground. I read the next page of the interaction between Max and the bullies and how Max wheels away to avoid further insults from then. EJ ends the story telling the viewers how Max’s two best friends play with him as they both leave the playground with him. EJ points out to the last page of why there needs to be an accessible playground for all children to play together.
I thank EJ for his creative theatrics during the taping of the show. Talk about thinking outside of the box in reading a picture book in an unscripted manner.
The lesson: Children learn to be themselves in any situation while adults use their scripts they learned in childhood.