Each time I read A Mother's Promise, I think of another learning activity or reading tip to help children enhance their reading skills and make connections to the world around them through reading. Here's what I've come up with so far...
Promises: What is a promise? What does it mean to promise something to someone? What kind of promises have you made? Have you ever broken a promise? How do the think the other person felt? Has someone ever broken a promise to you? How did it make you feel? What do you think the mother in the story is promising to her child? How do you think she will keep her promises?
Your Child's Birth Story: Tell your child about your pregnancy with him/her and about his/her birth. What promises did you make to him/her before and after he/she was born? How did you feel when your child was born? What were the first few days/months/years like?
Personification: In the book, Humphrey personifies the desert, the ocean, and all of the other places she mentions. Go through the book and have your child guess what the desert's warm breath and the ocean's beating heart are. (You don't have to even use the word personification and turn it into a lesson).
This book could be an excellent jumping off point for discussing different places in the world. Identify different oceans, mountains, deserts, forests in the world. Discuss the characteristics of each one, the different animals you find in each place. You could even do a compare/contrast activity.
Another idea is to discuss different places you've been either with your child or places you traveled before your child was born. Where did you go? What did you do? What were some of the most memorable moments? Use this as an opportunity to create an oral history with your child.
In the book, the mother also promises the world's most sacred places to her child. Based on the illustration of a magnificent waterfall, we can imply that Humphrey is talking about the earth's sacred places that we should honor and preserve. Talk about some of the world's sacred places. Have you visited a place that you would consider sacred? One that immediately comes to my mind is the Iguacu Falls in Parana, Brazil. I was fortunate enough to visit these cascades in 1999, and I have never experienced anything quite like it in my life. I remember feeling awestruck and very small and powerless as I listened to powerful roar of the falls while standing over the “Garganta del Diablo” (The Devil's Throat), the spray hitting my face. I also remember feeling an extreme sense of peace as I was surrounded by such beauty.
The mother promises her child the stars in the book. Discuss the stars and constellations with your child. If you're like me and need to brush up on your astronomy, I found this site for kids that teaches the basics. I'm sure there are many others out there.
Through the book, we learn to appreciate the wonders of nature and the beauty of earth. A Mother's Promise can help you teach the importance of conservation, of preserving and protecting the earth. The EPA has a nice site with all kinds of information and games about protecting the environment. Kids in grades K-4 can also join the EPA Environmental Kids Club for free and get a certificate in the mail and access to special projects on the site. And then I found this list of websites that teach kids how to "be green."
That's all I can think of right now, but as you can see, this short book provides a number of opportunities for you to build bonds and connections with your child, and it opens the door to learning about a ton of different things in the world.