Today I came to the library to study in an effort to get some true uninterrupted study time. But of course, I couldn't start without first checking out the children's books section. I'm convinced that no matter how old my girls get it will always be my most favorite section in the library. It's warm and sunny out today, a typical California day, and still, I found myself drawn to a picture book with a bright red umbrella on the front. It was smiling.
The Big Umbrella is about an umbrella that is big, friendly and quite helpful. The umbrella isn't concerned with what you look like; if you are in need of shelter it will make room for you. For everyone. Always.
In just a few words and beautiful illustrations (some humorous) it says so much. I know little about the story behind the story having seen it for the first time today but it's officially a favorite. I'll be doing my research and hope to add it to our personal library and Little Free Library.
I'd like to think this bright red umbrella mirrors our hearts, or at least the way they ought to be. Big and kind and helpful — always willing to open wide and make room for one more. I think about the way my heart felt like it had miraculously grown when I gave birth to my daughter. Is it possible to ever love anyone else this much? I was sure it wasn’t. My heart was at maximum capacity. But then I met my husband. And years later came another baby girl and each time my heart expanded making room to receive and to give the gift of love. MORE love.
Today I sit here, thinking of the work I do as a social worker, the dream we had to start a library, the kind of friend, daughter, mother and spouse I desire to be. The one that I strive to be. Am I as wide open as the umbrella? Perhaps not always but that doesn't mean I can't work on it.
I love a story that reminds us of the importance of caring for one another regardless of where we come from, what we look like; our value placed not on who we are but simply because we are. A story that reminds us that there's space for all of us.
The Big Umbrella written and illustrated by Amy June Bates and cowritten by Juniper Bates