There are some wonderfully vibrant picture books around which both add a zing to El Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) festivities taking place today in Mexico, and give children everywhere the opportunity to take part, even if it is via their imaginations.
Jeanette Winter has both written and illustrated books on the theme. In Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book, the special papier maché skeletons come to life and dance their way through the pages: it’s a fun and lively introduction to the day’s inherent craft traditions. Illustrated by Jeannette Winter, Day of the Dead is equally effective visually; the book’s author Tony Johnston tells the story of a family’s day of preparations before going out into the night “to welcome the spirits of their loved ones home again”.
Author Janice Levy and illustrator Loretta Lopez have teamed up again (published earlier this year was Celebrate! It’s Cinco de Mayo! / Celebremos! Es El Cinco de Mayo!) on a new, bilingual story, I Remember Abuelito: A Day of the Dead Story / Yo Recuerdo a Abuelito: Un Cuento Del Día De Los Muertos. It’s about a little girl who is thinking particularly about her beloved abuelito (grandfather), who has died a few month’s previously, as she helps her family get ready for the Day of the Dead celebrations, when she knows she will find him again. A full review of this gentle and uplifting story with accompanying activities will be published in this month’s update of PaperTigers… Janice Levy is, of course, also the author of the very special The Spirit Of Tío Fernando: A Day of the Dead Story/El espíritu de tío Fernando: Una historia del Día de los Muertos.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world from where all these festivities are taking place, today has been chosen as the UK’s Family Storytelling Day, to kick off the month’s StoryQuest. Even if you’re too far away to take part physically in any of the many events being organised all over the country, take a look at the website for ideas and tips on how to go about introducing your children to their own family heritage: share in the Día de los Muertos celebrations and bring your ancestors alive by passing their stories down through the generations.