Monday, March 22, 2010

The Homefront

So, Booster is fascinated by the homefront during WWII. The Big One is not a topic that I wanted to go into any great detail with my seven-year-old, but here we are. She started with Welcome to Molly's World. (Molly is the American Girl character that represents the generation that grew up during the war.) For some reason, Booster was extremely curious about the need for blackouts and how they were organized.

I remember my grandmother talking about her experiences during the war, including getting around during blackouts (Americans during the war were evidently very cautious because my midwestern hometown participated.), painting on nylon seams, and going to the USO to wait for her serviceman husband. Now through conversation with Booster's paternal grandfather we know that her great grandfather was a warden. (She knows that her great grandfathers on my side all served in the Pacific Theater.)

So, we've read a lot of Molly's World and then moved on the war years' books in the Tomie DePaola 26 Fairmount Avenue series (which by the way is a great chapter book series for kindergartners up until the War Years books which are clearly marked as such). These nonfiction books very clearly illustrated to Booster how a child would have been affected by the war and the changes that happened at home from colder schools to gas rationing to having family members leave for the service.

I was reluctant to follow her and encourage her on this journey because some of the issues that WWII bring up are quite difficult to explain and painful to contemplate, most notably the Holocaust. Last week, Booster asked me in the car who Anne Frank was. So we had a brief and truthful conversation about concentration camps without her asking too many detailed questions about them which was a huge relief to me.

In all of these conversations, she really doesn't have a good comprehension of politics and why one country would want to take over another one so she comes back to wondering why it all happened. How can I explain it to her? Do I want to?

During this time, for the first time in her life, she asked me if we were at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I didn't lie, yet I tried not to get too detailed about it because I don't want her to feel scared.

All of this really makes me think about how distant the war experience is for most of us. I only distantly know of people who have served or are serving overseas and nothing is requested of most of us in our day-to-day lives to support the war effort--there is no draft, no rationing, no war bonds.

We have a new book from the library called The Homefront which will provide more detailed information. Now that we have over 100 items checked out from the library, I can only hope that we end up reading something else.

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