By Bella P. and Shoshana B., Grade 7
In September, we welcomed an author-in-residence, Kathryn Otoshi, from Facing History and Ourselves. Ms. Otoshi has a vivid past that she shared with us through her stories, One and Zero, and through her brilliant words. She is the author of many books for children, but she chose to share with us two in particular. One and Zero weave counting and identification of color into a story about bullying and standing up for yourself.
As she stood before the middle school, she unraveled the meaning behind the seemingly playful words in her books. Ms. Otoshi read us her books with eloquence and dignity. One told us the story of an excluded and bullied color, Blue. Blue was always picked on by the harsh color of red. Although the other colors were nicer to Blue and agreed that Blue wasn’t being treated fairly, none of them stood up for Blue in the presence of Red. In the end, every color transformed into a number, signifying that they would stand up for themselves and others. All but Red. Red began to roll away but Blue asked if Blue and Red could be equal. After this, Red becomes a number, too.
This children’s story signifies many values: values to the world, and values in this com-munity. Rashi’s five core values – limud, tzedek, kehila, kavod and ruach – all play into this lively story. The value of limud was demonstrated through the colors’ abilities to adapt and learn from each other’s teachings. Tzedek was shown through One’s ability to make sure that everyone was feeling welcomed and that there was a sense of fairness in the environment. Kehila was revealed by the way the colors finally accepted everyone for their true selves. The value of kavod was evident when One stood up for Blue, for standing up for yourself is a true form of kavod. Lastly, ruach was uncovered in the energetic way that all of the colors responded to becoming numbers and welcoming each other.
Zero was a book about self-confidence. Surprisingly, Zero was written following One, and not the expected opposite. What happens when your community accepts you, but you don’t accept yourself? This is a question often asked, yet never really answered. In Zero, the main character, Zero, is eventually helped to see that if Zero accepted herself, Zero would see that she already had a true place.
One and Zero are important books for Rashi students to learn from because they tell im-portant stories about the truth of community. Additionally, the depth in the stories opens up entirely new learning opportunities for us as students. For instance, it teaches us the merit of standing up for ourselves and others along with simple learning skills such as counting and reading.
Overall, Kathryn Otoshi taught us much about core values and the importance of stand-ing up for yourself, themes present in our day-to-day Rashi lives.
Second grader Isabelle S. reports:
The book One by Kathryn Otoshi is an extraordinary book! You might know about bullying but One teaches you a lot moer you probably don’t know! When you open the book you are greeted with colors that teach you a lesson about bullying. In the book, One stands up for Blue. Another example I learned that friends can help solve any bullying problem. Read this book and you will know much more!