Help Broaden a Child’s Horizons: A Diverse Book List

Scroll down for the highlighted book list!

I know this to be true: Children with access to a broad range of perspectives, those who understand that one must look at history through a variety of lenses and consider the motivations of the historians who came before them, will grow up to be educated, open-minded individuals who have a much better chance of having a positive impact on the world.

It is imperative that we teach our children critical thinking skills as well as the ability to be humble. If they don’t discover that “our way” is not the only way, they will be incapable of thinking outside the box to create the solutions that their generation will surely need for their survival. If they don’t learn about the many choices in this world, they will not be capable of making informed decisions in their own lives.

There is a trend in our schools to cut off access to any knowledge that might offend closed-minded adults, and we allow this to happen at our peril. I want our future leaders to know some things without question:

  • Other cultures have other perspectives.
  • Evolution is real.
  • People with special needs deserve kindness, too.
  • Christianity is not the only religion in the world.
  • Some people choose not to believe in any religion at all.
  • Women have made a positive impact on this planet, as have people of color.
  • Science is real, and it evolves over time as we continue to explore new paths of inquiry.
  • Getting to know people who do not look like you is a very good thing.
  • We live amongst people who have different sexual orientations and/or gender identifications than we do, and that fact should not be considered a threat.
  • Diversity is beautiful and provides the broader perspective that we need to effectively solve problems.

It becomes increasingly evident that if we want children to have a well-rounded education, we will have to take matters into our own hands. For many years I struggled to find a way to assist in this effort. Then I realized that I may not be able to change the world, but I can certainly make a difference in my little corner of it.

Since I genuinely believe that that access to books that might not be found in our increasingly-censored schools is imperative if we want our children to have a global perspective, I decided to start a little free library in front of my home. This library contains books for adults as well, and it has become increasingly popular over time.

The fascinating thing about this library is that the adult books often come back so that other people might enjoy them, but the children’s books almost never do. That’s perfectly fine. Kids love to read books over and over again.

Unfortunately, that means that it’s very difficult to keep enough children’s books in stock to meet the demand. People are kind enough to donate books occasionally, but they’re rarely as diverse as I would like them to be. For example, I have dozens of books about Christmas, but no books at all about Kwanzaa, Eid, Diwali, Hanukah, or Ramadan. I can’t afford to purchase all these books myself.

The other night I was thinking about this problem, and finally accepting the fact that putting out pleas on the Facebook pages for my community was yielding nothing, and I began to daydream about the kind of books I’ll like to have for the library. A wish list of sorts.

Then I remembered that Amazon allows you to make wish lists. So I hopped over to their website and started making one. It’s a work in progress, and will definitely expand over time.

So, without further ado, check out my list entitled Children’s Books for Clark Lake Park Little Free Library. 

Because this cause is so near and dear to my heart, I encourage you to use this list as a resource to obtain books for the children in your lives. If this list causes people to put even one diverse book in the hands of even one child, the world would be a much better place.

But make no mistake: I would also be thrilled if your generosity extended to my little free library. So, if you’re willing to purchase one of these books for the kids in my corner of the world, I would be almost as thrilled as the child who ultimately receives that book. The wish list contains my shipping information.

Thanks for your consideration. It takes a village!

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My Blog through the Eyes of Others

Rereading things from the perspective of someone else.

For the most part, when I’m writing this blog, it’s coming from the heart. I try not to alter my writing based on how it will be perceived. I just put it out there and hope it speaks to the people who give me the gift of the time it takes to read it.

Sometimes, though, once someone I know well has commented on it, I’ll go back and reread it from their perspective. We’re all different, of course, and none of us can truly inhabit the mind of another, but since I know these people and how they react to various things, I can guess at their reactions to my posts, beyond what they’ve already commented.

I’m not sure if this habit of mine is good or bad. It’s interesting to look at my posts from different angles. At the same time, I don’t want to start altering my posts purely for popularity’s sake. That wouldn’t feel authentic.

I find it fascinating that we all see things in very different ways. For the most part, I think that diversity revitalizes us all. That is, until you look at people out on the lunatic fringe, who are in their own strange little unreal worlds. But I digress.

How do you see my blog, dear reader? I’d greatly love to know!

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Culture Shock Light

Having travelled to 22 countries, I have come to expect a certain amount of culture shock. In fact, I kind of look forward to it. It’s half the fun. I enjoy having my perspectives challenged, and it’s exciting to see how I’ll react to being thrust out of my comfort zone.

As strange as this may sound, I tend to struggle most with this when visiting our neighbor to to the north: Canada. I spent a great deal of time pondering this as I drove up to Vancouver from Seattle recently.

Of all the countries in the world, I tend to assume that Canada is the most like the US.  And we do have a lot in common. But there are some extraordinary differences as well, and because we are so similar, those differences are all the more jarring to me.

Even the sights are “same same, but different.” They have Starbucks and IKEA and Safeway and all those familiar brands you come to expect. But interspersed with those things are these other places that I’m never sure about. What do they sell? I dunno.

And then there are those unexpected turns of phrase that suddenly make you feel like you’re speaking two different languages.

“That’s me done.”

“Huh?”

“That’s. Me. Done. With lunch. I can’t eat any more.”

“Oh.”

Many of the traffic signs are identical to ours, except when they aren’t. And what’s with the flashing green lights at some intersections, but not others? I actually had to Google that so as not to get myself killed. Apparently it means something different, depending upon which province you are in. That would never fly in the US.

The people in Canada seem to have held on to a certain courtesy, dignity, tolerance, cooperation and decorum that Americans have shed as if it were dead skin. We must seem like the crazy relatives that you only subject yourself to at weddings and major holidays. The rest of the time, you just shake your head and sigh.

(And before you mention this in the comments, I realize that in order to even write this post I have to make some sweeping generalizations. I get that no two people are alike. But I think this is an interesting path of inquiry, however unscientific it may be.)

The biggest difference between our two countries, I think, is one of awareness. I’d be willing to bet that most Americans can go years, decades, without giving Canada a thought. I wonder how many of us can even find Canada on a map. (I bet I could get an answer via Google, but I’d be too ashamed, I suspect, of the results.)

On the other hand, Canadians are painfully aware of us. They read our media. They watch PBS. The ravings of our current president impact them quite a bit. Most Canadians think about us every single day. So there’s that.

The impression that I get is that Americans assume they are envied by everybody, including Canadians. But in fact, from talking to the people I’ve met, most Canadians are befuddled by our pride in our military might, our rampant patriotism, our greed, and our distrust of our own government.

Canadians have a great deal more social support, and don’t seem to question the importance of it. They would be shocked if they had to pay a doctor. They are confident in their single payer system, and really don’t understand why we struggle with this concept.

I absolutely love visiting Canada, but I think I need to stop being surprised when I’m reminded I’m not home. I need to let Canada be Canada, and stop trying to force it into my little American box. Because let’s face it: At this time in our history, why on earth would they want to be there in the first place?

Canada_and_USA_Flag

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The Other Side of the Story

I just had this psychedelic thought, and I’m not even smoking pot. Here it is: Stories are three-dimensional. They have sides. They have perspectives. They have angles. The conclusions you draw from them will be based on which direction you approach them from. You can’t see all sides at once.

I suppose I always thought of stories as words coming at me in a straight line. That’s probably why I’ve gone through life utterly confounded by the fact that not everyone learned the lessons that I was learning. “Did you not hear what I just heard?” Apparently not.

Biblical interpretation and controversy are prime examples of this. Fundamentalists think that the stories in the bible are flat and one-dimensional and therefore straightforward. They simply cannot understand why everyone does not view this book in the exact same way that they do. I find this kind of sad. Why would you want to crush this story, or any story, for that matter, down to an invariable smooth surface when it can be so beautiful and varied and ever-changing in your examination? Even if you are not a Christian (and I am not), this book has lessons, as do all the great stories of mankind.

From now on, I’m going to try to imagine stories coming toward me in varied, colorful, geometric shapes. Like unique little gifts floating on the air. I’m going to try to look at them from many sides to capture as much of their beauty as I can. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities, and will make the world a much more beautiful place for me. I’m excited!

[Image credit: origami.wonderhowto.com]
[Image credit: origami.wonderhowto.com]

The Best of The View from a Drawbridge

I cannot believe it, but today is the one year anniversary of my blog! What a ride this has been. I’ve managed to post an entry every single day for an entire year. I would have never guessed I’d have this much to talk about.

By writing this much I’ve learned a great deal as well; about myself, about various topics, and about the people who have been kind enough to leave comments on my many posts. I’ve also made a lot of new friends and been introduced to a lot of unique perspectives. I am very grateful for this experience. It has been, and will hopefully continue to be, one of the highest points in my life.

At the time of this writing, I have 168 followers, and an average of 35 views per day. I have received 2,842 comments, and people from 102 different countries have stopped by. And that includes China, which is a country I never expected to see, given the internet restrictions there. Welcome, China! I hope someday North Korea will have the freedom to join you.

My most viewed entry, by a country mile, is Andy Johnson, SHAME on you!!! I guess people are just naturally drawn to descriptions of gross fraud by public figures.

My best title, in my opinion, is Weather, ‘tis Nobler.

My best sentence, without a doubt, is “Barack Obama eats boysenberry aspic on melba toast while doing the watusi in a frothy silk kimono.” That comes from my entry entitled I’m going Slightly Mad. You’ll just have to check it out if you want more details.

I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to decide which of my blog entries this year was the best, or at least which one is my favorite. This was not an easy job. I went back through every single entry and narrowed it down to four possibilities. From there I asked my friends to give me their opinions, and they were most gracious about taking the time to share their thoughts with me. The feedback was so overwhelming that I feel confident in saying that my best entry this year, by far, was How to give HORRIBLE Customer service.

I wanted to thank you, dear reader, for hanging in there with me this year. I hope that we’ll be enjoying each other’s company for many years to come.

My Stats _ WordPress.com - 2013-11-15_08.24.12

This is a map of all the countries who have stopped by to visit me. The list of countries on the left was so long that it actually scrolls off the page. Woo hoo! (Africa, I hope I’ll be seeing more of you soon.)