The Rag Coat, written by Lauren A. Mills, was a favourite of mine to read to my classes at Thanksgiving Time. Our Canadian Thanksgiving is in a couple of weeks, with the holiday south of our border in less than a month’s time. What will Thanksgiving mean to you this year? In the time of this pandemic, we are to be reminded to look for blessings, however small.
The focus in my classroom in October was on being thankful what you had and the need to be kind to others in need. The father’s comment in the book that “People only need people, and nothing else.” is a valuable lesson indeed. As Kiwanians, we are always in need of increasing our membership to help others less fortunate than ourselves.
The young girl in the story is called Minna. Her family couldn’t afford a coat for her but her Papa kept her warm in winter with a burlap sack and her Mama’s patchwork quilt wrapped around her. Little eight- year-old Minna started school after her father’s passing but she had no coat to wear. Her neighbors contributed scraps from their family remnants to make a patchwork coat, lined with the old sack her father would wrap her in. Her classmates teased her about her unusual coat but soon learned what bits of their history were apart of it.
This is a touching story, ideal for 7 to 10 years old. I made a mistake in selecting The Rag Coat one year as our club’s donation and Readaloud for our local elementary schools. One Kiwanian scolded me after volunteering in a classroom, saying that he couldn’t get through reading the story to the children without tearing up…I took that as high praise!