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November 18, 2010


You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be –
I had a mother who read to me.
~Strickland Gillilan

So what are the odds that 4 people are going to ask you the same question in one day? Or 3 the next day.  They  must think I know what I’m doing; Lord help us all help us all.

You are waiting with bated breath right? The question was…… What books do you read with your girls? What books do you buy and why. The book fair is in session here at school. Classes are lining up with fists full of dollars. I will refrain from commentary, as far as book fair.

Reading has become our society’s torch to brandish about.  Reading will light our way, there are public service announcements, celebrities endorsing, heck my girls are rushing through library books in order to have enough stickers for the free In N Out burger. Seriously.  What I’m not hearing about is literacy. What is the difference you may ask. Volumes, pardon the pun. As I see it reading is the basic competency and cognitive abilities/skills necessary to peruse the NY Times. Literacy is the additional abilities to understand the vocabulary, context,  meaning, derive interpretations of text and metaphor,and use critical thinking through the article. And pen a fairly smart retort if necessary, one the editor might consider to publish.

Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.
Kofi Annan (Ghanaian diplomat, seventh secretary-general of the United Nations, 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.)

I might also add a love of engaging in consuming a good book. One of the best quotes I’ve read on literacy is something to the effect that literacy is an intimate engagement and relationship with the author. As someone who writes less than literary thoughts on a blog, I can say its intimate, at least on this end.

Which leads us to what books I choose and why.

I have  fairly simple criteria for books that may live forever in my home. By which I mean to say, books I will buy at full price . Library books are filtered by me , but usually they visit and then go home. Occasionally, I will allow purchases from the used book sections of various stores, and these are also filtered but not at such a defcon level as if I were purchasing to keep forever.

#1.If it is a picture book: is it lovely? Is the art work pleasing? Are the images uplifting?

#2. Is the message one I would want brought into my daughter’s dream world? Does this book and its message reflect our morals, values and ethics? Would it be something or someone I’d hang out with?

Frankly, do I want it emulated?

Before everyone gets all feisty  I want to say that they asked me my opinion. And that I’d like a disclaimer: First,  its my opinion for my family. Second,  I am talking about books for children, mostly children under 13 or so. But even after that I would think that my choices would fall into similar categories. Do I want Order at 13 in her puberty years reading bodice rippers? horror? teenage angst where it’s all about getting the guy? or how mean other girls were? No. I don’t. Because I don’t want her living that ,nor thinking or acting it. There is a chasm between writing that reaches the soul through fantasy and imagery and one that uses imagery  for entertainment. Both have their merits true, I’d live the one the ones pulled from the shelf  on a slow rainy day to be former and not the later.

‘A fashionable milieu is one in which everybody’s opinion is made up of the opinion of all the others. Has everybody a different opinion? Then it is a literary milieu.”
Marcel Proust

While I am striking a match to inflame indignation I don’t bring certain magazines into the house either. I know, gasp! Its just that with 3 very impressionable girls in the house it seems counter productive to my parenting mission of empowered women to have a magazine that suggests they need various makeup/weight loss, clothing/you name it to be popular, attract the guy et al. lying around. Its hard enough to see myself in the morning mirror  I certainly don’t need some lipo, lifted, lazer’d lady grinning on the nightstand to shame me. ( or Coach to ogle for that matter) Anyhoo.

“Do not trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks, even though they bring gifts.” Virgil

books. I’m opinionated. I’m a reader. A voracious, consuming, reader. I hold no claim to know all the wonderful books out there.

Here a few great sources for you from those who are far more versed than I .

The Waldorf Reading List

The Linden Waldorf School, scroll down to around page 5

The Parenting Passageway

I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries.
Stephen King

Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your oxen turned into bouillon cubes.  ~John LeCarre

One Comment leave one →
  1. Cathrine Ji permalink
    November 18, 2010 8:24 am

    Thank you for your wonderful talk on Temperaments! I am looking forward to more more more! Yes, hold that lantern high and be sure not to drop it!

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