A Chair for My MotherBy Vera B. Williams 9780688009144_xlg.jpg

Biography Information:
  • Title: A Chair for My Mother
  • Author: Vera B. Williams
  • Illustrator: Vera B. Williams
  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Series: Reading Rainbow Books
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; Rei Rep edition (January 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688040748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688040741


Rosa is a young girl who lives with her mother and grandmother. Rosa often helps out at the diner that her mother works at and she does such a good job that she gets paid. Rosa always takes half of her earnings and puts them in a jar. Rosa and her mother are saving up to buy the perfect chair to relax in because all of their chairs were ruined in a house fire that they had. Rosa's selflessness enables her to fill the jar all the way to the top and she and her mother finally buy the chair that they have always dreamed of.


A Chair for My Mother would be a wonderful book to read with younger students because it teaches them the dedication that it takes to save money, the hard work required to earn money, and how wonderful it feels to do something for someone else. Students will also learn the importance of coming together in times of tragedy. This book models a different style family. Rosa's father is not mentioned in this story, but she is very close with her mother, grandmother, aunt, and uncle. Many students would be able to relate to this because not all families are made up of a mom and a dad. This was a unique aspect of the story that I liked because so many stories represent traditional family make-ups.

Analysis of literary element:

There are multiple themes that can be identified in A Chair for My Mother which is what makes this story so interesting. First we have the theme of Family. The entire story's focus is on Rosa and her mother working together so that they can save enough money for their dream chair. The second theme is economic hardship. Rosa's mother makes very little money working at the diner which is why the two need to save all of their spare change for a year just to buy a chair. The third theme is working together. After Rosa's house catches on fire and everything in it is destroyed, her neighbors come together to provide her family with all of the things that they lost. Rosa, her mother, and her grandmother also work together in order to buy the chair. These three themes help to teach readers the lesson of hard work, patience, and being there for others when they need you.Williams' ability to craft multiple themes within this story helps to appeal to a broader audience because there is so much that readers can connect to. A child that has a very close family can relate to Rosa's relationship with her mother. A child who has needed to save money for a while in order to buy something that they really wanted can relate to Rosa as she counts the coins in the jar day after day. Students can also connect with the theme of working together because there are always times in our lives when we needed the help of others, or that we provided help for someone in need.

Author Biography:

Vera B. Williams was born on January 28, 1927 in Hollywood, California. Williams was a school teacher and an artist prior to becoming a writer and illustrator for children's books. She won a Caldecott Medal award and the Boston Globe-Horn Book award in the picture book category in 1983 for A Chair for My Mother, a Caldecott Medal award in 1991 for "More More More" Said the Baby: Three Love Stories, the Boston Globe-Horn Book award in fiction in 1994 for Scooter, and the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature in 2009.

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