Category: Race and Ethnicity
Title: Peter’s Chair
Author: Ezra Jack Keats
Illustrator: Ezra Jack Keats
Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint Edition
Year: 1998 (Original story written in 1973)
ISBN Number: 978-0140564419
Number of Pages: 40 (paperback version)
Reading Level: Age 2-7
Genre: Children’s picture book
Summary: This is the story of a little boy named Peter who has a new baby sister. He notices that his parents are painting his old crib and high chair pink for her. Before they can get to his little chair, he decides to take the chair and run away. He sets up outside the house with his chair and then realizes that he no longer fits in the chair. At the end, he comes inside and tells his dad he wants to help him paint the chair pink for Susie.
Main Themes: The theme of the story is sibling rivalry. It shows how Peter was jealous at first of how his new baby sister was being treated, but then comes around to realize that it is good for him to be supportive and kind to her. It shows themes of adapting to change.
Strengths: This story is classic and timeless in the way it portrays sibling rivalry. Class is not necessarily portrayed in the story. Peter could be in a rich or poorer family. He is illustrated as black but this would not be clear to the reader without looking at the pictures. The author of the book is Ezra Jack Keats and it was written at a time where there were not very many picture books that showed black children, especially ones just living a normal life. Ezra is a Caldecott award winning author. Children often have the feeling of “it’s mine!” when it comes to giving away old toys or things they used but this story does a great job of showing how to do this with a positive mindset- especially if it is something you can no longer fit in or use. The art in the story is simply and children can easily place themselves into the scene or imagine what Peter is going through.
Weaknesses: Something one could point out as a weakness in this story is gender stereotyping. All of the things Peter had previously owned were painted blue. When his little sister is born, they are painting everything pink. These are extremely stereotypical colors for the genders, and it is one of the main points the whole story revolves around. If they wanted to take the color of the toys out the author would have to re-write the whole story.
http://www.ezra-jack-keats.org/ezras-books/peters-chair/ : This website is filled with information about the book. It has everything from summaries to ideas of how to bring this into the classroom and connect it to other themes.
http://oceansoffirstgradefun.blogspot.com/2011/03/peters-chair.html : This is a first grade lesson plan with a reading of the story and worksheets and coloring pages to use.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OB09KdxW6M : YouTube read aloud of the text