A book based on true events that took place in Billings, Montana in 1993, Red and Green and Blue and White, by Lee Wind, is a tale of UPstanding as opposed to BYstanding. The main characters, Teresa and Isaac, live in a town, not different from many of us, that gets lit up in bright colors this time of year. Many houses, like Teresa’s, are lit up in red and green, signifying their celebration of Christmas. Across the street, Isaac, whose family celebrates Hanukkah, has a house lit up in blue and white. The story shows how the children have some ways that their families celebrate in common, while some traditions they each have are different. They are content to celebrate together and in their own special ways.
That is, until one night, when a rock is thrown through Isaac’s window. After the window is fixed, Teresa feels sad for her friend and decides to draw a menorah and hang it in her family’s window, in support of Isaac.
This good deed spreads and soon there are pictures of menorahs in houses, businesses, and buildings around the whole town. Teresa and the people of Billings, Montana, decided to stand up for Isaac and his family and, in a situation where one family could have been ostracized for being different, they are actually made to feel more a part of their community than ever.
I think something I admire about this book is its versatility. I read this book with both my 4 year old and my 10 year old and, in turn, had 2 very different discussions. With my 4 year old, it was about how Isaac was different because he celebrated something different, but how his friend and his town came together to make him feel included and loved. With my 10 year old, she wanted to know more about why someone would throw a rock through Isaac’s window. Having some deeper background knowledge from other books she has read, we talked about discriminiation and how some people act out of hate, but how love can rise above that hate like it did in this situation. We also talked about the importance of standing up for things and people you believe in. Though the depth of the conversations was different, the message was the same – it’s all about inclusion and love. At the end of the day, love for our friends and neighbors can help us overcome any differences we may have. And, honestly, isn’t that the message we all need right now, more than ever?