My daughter complained the other day, "You're working all of the time.
I never get to spend time with you!" Ouch. Seriously, is this what all kids with working parents think? I'm a single mom. There have to be others out there in the same situation as me.
There are. Statistics prove it. According to the American Census Bureau's 2007-2011 Community Survey (as found on Kansas City Public Library's American Factfinder database), 40.4% of households in KCMO with related children aged 18 and under are headed by a female with no husband present. How many moms are working to put food on the table and a roof over their kids' heads? That's a lot of kids whose mamas are not home with them for at least some part of their waking hours. The statistic doesn't even count families with two married parents who both work.
Okay, so a big portion of Kansas City kids have at least one parent who works outside the home. How does this relate to the Library? Bibliotherapy. That's a big word with a simple meaning: books that address an issue. I found some picture books that speak directly to this situation.
Here are a few that I like best:
A young pig feels nervous about going to preschool. His mama tells him, "Always remember this: I love you when I'm with you and I love you when we're apart. Then, she details how he will face wonderful experiences and dissapointments. Throught it all, he still has her love. Finally, she will return to him at the end of the day. This comforting book prepares young children for the absence of their regular caregivers, and reassures them that being temporarily left is not the same as being abandoned.
This book has sparse text with a memorable rhythm and repeated refrain.
It focuses on special times the mother and her young child will share when she returns from work. Beautiful illustrations of them together and ovals that show items related to each part of their bedtime routine feel cozy.
It reminds children of the connections that they share with their mothers who are not with them during the day.(Shift-workers could still use the book but instead talk of the times that they do have with their kids, even if those moments don't come right before sleep). This book has a companion called When Papa Comes Home Tonight by the same author/illustrator team.
Elementary school kids will get a kick out of this book. While the words could apply to any family, the illustrations make it clear that the mom here is a witch. She makes potions, dances around a cauldron, and flies on a broom, for example. However, despite sometimes resenting Mom being away,her child concludes, "Even though I don't always like having a working mom, I just can't picture mine any other way." The child has an androgynous look, so the reader isn't sure if the story comes from a son or a daughter. Either way, the silly premise and goofy illustrations keep the attention of kids who don't wanta preachy story but would still like reassurance.
I read all of the books that I describe here with my daughter. She liked My Working Mom best. However, she's going into first grade. A few years ago, chances are good that a different title would have been her favorite. No matter, I am glad that there are books out there to assist me and others like me help our children cope-- because no amount of begging or pleading will make us stay at home.
Anna Francesca Garcia earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas. This August will mark her ninth year working in libraries. Currently, Anna is the Outreach Education Librarian for the Kansas City Public Library. However, her favorite six-year-old test subject just calls her "Mom."