Beyond the Book: Why the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum holds Children’s Storytime & Art Activities.

Why the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum holds Children’s Storytime & Art Activities.

Back in September of 2021, the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum (MFSM) was bestowed the National Endowment for the Arts grant called the NEA Big Read, in association with the Arts Midwest. As part of this grant, the museum had to choose a book from a list of provided books to inspire their NEA Big Read months-long community program. The book chosen may be a familiar one; it was The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. This book was all about Esperanza, a young Mexican American and Chicana girl who just moved into a house on Mango Street with her family, and each chapter is a small story into the life, complications, beauty, and more of living in her neighborhood and the community around her.

With the Mango Street book being a little bit more of an advanced read for the youngest readers out there, the MFSM decided to find several children’s books that also celebrated Latin American culture, as well as taught a little about it. Each book chosen was given an accompanying art activity, as a way to help absorb the story of the day.

Hairs/Pelitos by Sandra Cisneros

The first book was one written by Sandra Cisneros herself – Hairs/Pelitos, which is inspired straight out of one of the chapters of The House on Mango Street. This story was accompanied by a mixed media collage activity, allowing the kids to have a chance to explore their own identity with the materials and putting it into a collage, much like how the hair styles and types in the book taught Esperanza more about her own identity.

Nosotros Means Us by Paloma Valdivia

The second book was called Nosotros Means Us by Paloma Valdivia. This book was a bilingual story that explored the beautiful and unconditional relationship between mother and daughter, and was accompanied by a coloring activity utilizing a coloring worksheet of the “Two Bears,” a sculpture by Marshall M. Fredericks, that presents a momma bear and baby bear. This highlights Valdivia’s book not just because of the mother-daughter relationship, but also because the book uses animals to demonstrate what unconditional love really means.

My Little Golden Book About Frida Kahlo written by Silvia Lopez and illustrated by Elisa Chavarri

The third and final book is My Little Golden Book About Frida Kahlo written by Silvia Lopez and illustrated by Elisa Chavarri. This book gives a glimpse into Frida Kahlo’s life growing up, always being a little eccentric, and overcoming obstacles to become the famous artist we know her as today, with a fun activity teaching the fundamentals of piñata making by creating small piñatas to highlight the lesson that colorful and eccentric art can bring joy and excitement.

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Aimed at our youngest readers, these children’s books and the associated activities give lessons not only about family, identity, and joy, but also help to teach these readers about Hispanic culture and language.

When children are able to explore and delve into stories and receive lessons about other cultures, it helps them to gain greater empathy, compassion, and understanding for others that will be vital as they grow up and experience connecting with so many different people. Using the beauty of diverse cultures to teach and to enrich children gives them a greater appreciation of the people around them, but also surprisingly helps them to appreciate their own culture and heritage.

The more children are taught about the wonderful and rich cultures of other peoples, they’ll be able to have a deeper understanding of the differences between the various cultures of the world. When they do this, they’ll also have a deeper relationship with their own culture, their own traditions, and their own identity, because they’ll begin to see that the distinctions and differences between the diverse peoples of the world also apply to their own.

Our goal at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum is to be a place that embraces and celebrates diversity and culture, and to help others do the same. The more we appreciate and respect other people and their cultures and traditions, the more we can do so for our own, because it’s in those differences and distinctions where we can truly find the beauty of ourselves, our families, our communities, and the world around us.

These Beyond the Book: Children’s Storytime & Art Activity get-togethers have been our way to help teach the next generation these lessons and be inspired to see the wonders of humanity in all its forms.

Learn More about the Marshall M. Frederick Sculpture Museum

The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum is located on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University at the Arbury Fine Arts Center.

Museum Hours: Monday – Saturday, 11 am – 5 pm!

Admission: Free

Contact: Please call the Museum during open hours for more information at 989-964-7125.


**The Marshall M. Fredricks Sculpture Museum is a participant in the STEM Passport App.  Download app to learn more about the organization and other upcoming events.

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