Some time ago I was attempting to read a bedtime story to three disgruntled children who were having a familiar disagreement about who would take the two spaces next to me. In the past the little one had sat on my lap, but now that she wasn’t so little anymore it was getting trickier to see the pages with her head in the way. Something had to change and the each child gets their own story routine was introduced. Bedtime now takes forever, but at least it’s calmer than before.
When my big girl began to outgrow the books she had brought with her from Australia, and the books that started to come home from school were in German, I realised that I wasn’t sure what other kids her age were reading. Harry Potter seemed a big leap from fairy books.
Then I came across when Hitler stole pink rabbit by Judith Kerr. For a girl who is never sure what to answer when people ask where she is from, my daughter could identify with Anna, despite the difference in circumstances, through the beautifully told story of adventure and belonging and identity.
As we followed Anna on her journey from Germany to Switzerland, the words on the page brought to life a village along lake Zurich and we wondered if it could be the very same village as ours. The description of how it felt to start school in Paris, without being able to speak French, had an effect on my daughter because what she was reading mirrored her own experience and was more helpful than anything I could say.
The wisdom in this book will certainly stay with me and I would recommend it for any nomadic children out there. The feeling of wonder throughout was a good reminder that while I may worry about my children not having a sense of home, all that really matters to them is that we are together. Together we are home, and that is a rather lovely thing to realise.