One Book Day 2024—Thing: Inside the Struggle for Animal Personhood
Open any door at the Preschool on Willow Place and find a world of wonder: Children shrink and follow a cat to a moonlit party on the roof; they build the Great Wall and spy it curving from space; they pack their art supplies into their Model A and head into the desert with Georgia to paint. The marvelous teachers of the Preschool bring these worlds of wonder into play in their imagination. An Owl poetry party or a Wish tree celebrates their travels:
I have wishes
that I keep
inside my heart.
It is the softest place on earth.
Dreaming of you
and water last night.
-a thought at nighttime
Open a portal in this cabinet of curiosity on Willow Place and find potions and maps and dream-wrenches to fix time machines. In the course of becoming experts in the stories of Ringgold and Robinson and Ungerer and Doi, or the dance diagrams of the Nicholas brothers, or the poems of Mary Oliver and Langston Hughes, the children become experts at considering their own words and the words of their teachers and friends. Their language is tucked into their own poems in their pockets and woven into their playful performances; their art swirling everywhere reflects their visual ingestion, a translation of the data surrounding them:
The sea is a wilderness of waves
The sea runs as fast as the wind
The waves bundle over the coral reef
The waves have water in them
And they make a circle shade
When they go up
And splash when they go down
The boat runs over the waves
Open any door of the four classrooms of the Preschool, or to the shady play yard, or the beamed big room and find us as we spin our world into existence. We paint it, we play it, we sculpt it and dance it, draw it, sing it, push it, shove it, and it becomes ours. What a bunch of wranglers we are, sitting around a campfire telling stories about heists and bests and adventures. We take this world with its bones and toenails, shells and rock, needle and thread and tell it into the rest of our lives. This is just one of our beginnings.
Head of the Preschool