It’s hard enough for grownups. The horrifying images of angry insurgents storming the Capitol are difficult to watch, let alone comprehend. So how do you explain it to kids?
Kitty Felde talked to several teachers on Capitol Hill about what their elementary school students were asking about the events of January 6th. The result is a special two-part podcast called “Losing is Democratic,” part of the Fina Mendoza Mysteries series, scheduled to begin airing February 18 at www.finamendozamysteries.com.
Felde is an award-winning reporter and talk show host who covered Capitol Hill for public radio for nearly a decade. She has developed a series of podcasts based on her book, “Welcome to Washington, Fina Mendoza,” about a little girl who moves to the Hill from California when her father is elected to Congress.
In the “Losing is Democratic” episode, Fina’s fourth-grade class is competing in a reading contest where the prize is free pizza. Even though her class loses to the fifth grade, pizzas mysteriously appear at the doors of all the fourth-graders, leaving Fina puzzled.
Meanwhile, her father returns home safely after the Capitol is besieged and tries to explain to her why the rioters were so angry. The two events come together the next day in a classroom discussion of the role of losing in a democracy, drawing on the example of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to understand how it is possible to lose gracefully. While they remained estranged for many years after Adams lost the election to Jefferson, the two men eventually reconciled by writing letters to each other.
In the end, Fina not only solves the pizza mystery but also suggests that her classmates can be gracious losers as well by writing letters to the rival fifth-graders, allowing them to become “perhaps not friends, but at least opening a door to reconciliation.”
This episode has free curriculum at www.finamendozamysteries.com.
Stay tuned for Kitty Felde’s second book in the Fina Mendoza Mysteries series, “State of the Union,” which involves a mysterious bird that poops on the president’s head during the State of the Union address. It will be published later this year. www.kittyfelde.com
Karen Lyon is the Hill Rag’s Literary Editor, President Emerita of the annual Literary Hill BookFest, a Contributor to Folger Magazine and writes the monthly Literary Hill column. You can reach her at [email protected]