It’s February and the parades will be starting soon! This could be your family’s first, fourth, or fortieth Mardi Gras, but no matter how new or seasoned you might be, there’s always more to learn about this celebration.
Every New Orleans child needs a Mardi Gras book on their shelf. As with any event or topic, a book can heighten anticipation, deepen understanding, and offer new perspectives. The titles I’ve highlighted below are ones I’ve selected for my charter school network’s Mardi Gras reading event.
Fiction: The Mardi Gras experience in a story
- Mimi’s First Mardi Gras – from beignets on Mardi Gras morning to costumes and parades, experience Mardi Gras Day with Mimi and her parents.
- Jenny Giraffe’s Mardi Gras Ride – Jenny the giraffe experiences her first Mardi Gras and prepares to ride on a float; luckily she has friends to help her get ready.
- On Mardi Gras Day – from dawn to dusk, encountering Mardi Gras Indians to reenacting parades in the backyard on Mardi Gras afternoon, see Mardi Gras day through the eyes of a New Orleans’ child.
- The Red Feather – “In New Orleans that morning, the air smelled sweet. I saw a red feather as I walked down the street.” Told in rhyme, vivid brushstrokes, and creative font, this story introduces you to the Mardi Gras Indians on Mardi Gras day.
- Mardi Gras in the Country – for older children, go back in time and spend Mardi Gras day on Maw-Maw Badeaux’s front porch as masked riders pass.
Non-Fiction: What’s the story behind Mardi Gras?
- Mardi Gras and Carnival – learn about the history, traditions, food, parades, and music of Mardi Gras – with lots of photographs to draw your child in.
- Mardi Gras: A City’s Masked Parade – with one-page chapters and a focus on New Orleans, your child will learn the basics of the history and players in a New Orleans Mardi Gras.
- A Mardi Gras Dictionary – this is not just one word per letter, but a real dictionary of Mardi Gras staples: from Ash Wednesday to doubloons, grandstands to ladders, queens to “Throw Me Something, Mister!”, this is a nice broad overview of Mardi Gras.
Check out your local library’s Mardi Gras collection (don’t forget that library card holders can place an online book request!) or visit your neighborhood book store to get your child ready for Mardi Gras 2014!