Even though we no longer live in Louisiana, my husband and I try to celebrate Mardi Gras with our family. Since moving away, I realized that I didn’t know as much about the holiday as I thought. Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday,” is the day before Ash Wednesday. Lent is a time of sacrifice and giving up things you love, so Louisianians would party hard up through Fat Tuesday. In Louisiana, kids even had the day off of school for Mardi Gras!
This year, Mardi Gras falls on March 4, 2014 but festivities start in January. Since we can’t attend parades to catch gorgeous beads and baubles, we can still bring the spirit of the festival to our Maryland suburban apartment. To start, I rounded up some Mardi Gras books for kids so that we can all learn about this holiday.
Though out of print, I wanted to include On Mardi Gras Day by Fatima Shaik. It’s the only book I found that shares how two children and their African-American community celebrates Mardi Gras. You can still buy it from third-party sellers on Amazon for as little as $1.00 plus shipping.
In Dinosaur Mardi Gras by Dianne De Las Casas, learn about the unique music of Louisiana as dinosaurs dance to the Mardi Gras beat. Your kids will learn about Louisiana music and dinosaurs at the same time.
It’s always a delight to read Leo Lionni’s books with my kids. His illustrations make it easy for young children to follow along as you read them aloud. In The Greentail Mouse, city mouse visits his cousins in the country and tells them about Mardi Gras in the city. Of course the country mice are inspired to put on their own Mardi Gras celebration.
Recommended by a Louisianian friend, Gaston Goes to Mardi Gras by James Rice is a classic. Adventurous Gaston the alligator gives his readers a tour of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. My southern friends will recognize James Rice’s artwork as he did the illustrations for our childhood classic Cajun Night Before Christmas.
Technically not about Mardi Gras, Today Is Monday In Louisiana by songwriter Johnette Downing shares all the tasty Louisiana dishes that I miss. Louisiana food has many influences: Cajun, Creole, African, French, and even Vietnamese. This book is based off the songwriter’s song by the same title. Listen and sing along to Today Is Monday in Louisiana with Downing on Youtube.
Does your family have any favorite Mardi Gras picture books? Please share in the comments.
After you read the books, make some mini king cakes with your kids. Come back for some Mardi Gras music!
Some of these books might be not be at your library since they are very region specific. You can easily add them to your personal collection. Sign up for a free 30-day Amazon Prime trial for free 2 Day shipping (among other perks).
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