Book review: 'Hats of Faith' teaches important lessons

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In her new board book for children, "Hats of Faith" (ages 0-6), Medeia Cohan, originally from Berkshire County, has created an early primer for young people to experience the world with openness, understanding and knowledge.

A board book is designed for small children with pages pasted to durable, heavy cardboard. Cohan said she made her first book at the Berkshire Museum, which she still has, and she also contributed to their annual writing competition and believes they still have her submission on file.

"It was a lifetime ago," she said, "but I'm pretty sure it was 'a choose-your-own-adventure' story, which was really hard to do." Not for lack of material, however.

"When we left New York, and I was 2 years old, my mom and I lived in a log cabin in Hancock," she said. "After that we moved to Lee and finally settled in Pittsfield, where my parents have now been living for more than 30 years."

Through beautifully illustrated examples of head coverings from around the world by Sarah Walsh, Cohan describes each hat simply, directly and with accurate terminology. The beautifully vibrant illustrations show children the simple-yet-powerful first detail we might encounter in people from other cultures: their hats.

The interfaith theme is about what people wear on their heads in daily practice and how to better know them through this custom. It presents how an important aspect of clothing can reflect the culture and faith of people from many parts of the world. It is an introduction at a young age on how we can first encounter multi-cultural joy for every kind of people in the world.

On the last page of the book is the message: "Learning about each other makes it easy to be more understanding. Being understanding helps us spread love and peace." What indeed could be a better lesson? This delightful new board book has many lessons the whole world could benefit from in its form, content and message.

"Hats of Faith" is as much a primer on diversity as it is an early social studies lesson and introduction to the shared custom of head covering in varied cultures. With each illustrated head covering there is a phonetic pronunciation key so that a parent reading this delightful little book can go over how to say each word, and in doing so, help the child not only learn about each hat as an object by sight but also how to say new words that describe something from lettering. The book encourages early dialogue between parent and child and prepares youngsters for our more multi-cultural world.

Colin Harrington is the events manager at The Bookstore & Get Lit Wine Bar in Lenox. He welcomes reader comments at charrington686@gmail.com

READ IT

"Hats of Faith"

Written by Medeia Cohan and illustrated by Sarah Walsh

Publisher: Shade Publishing

Board Book: 14 pages/12 colored illustrations


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