Archive for October, 2010

“Spring Up, O Well!”

Today is Blog Action Day 2010. The theme is WATER.

I could write about so many things, but once again, the day is almost over and I find myself running out of time. Nevertheless, I have thought of little else this day except what I would write about when at last I got a moment to sit down at my computer.

The world’s environment is in such disarray. As humans we can live for much longer without food than we can without water. Every week, nearly 38,000 children under the age of 5 die from the lack of unsafe drinking water.  I thank the Holy One that I live in a community where drinking water is not only clean and safe, but it is plentiful. Yet, the question pounding in my head is – What would Miriam do?

According to our midrash, Miriam, the prophetess, was blessed to have a well of water that followed her wherever she traveled  throughout the Israelite’s wanderings in the desert. All she had to do was say, “Spring up, o well!” and a well of clean fresh water would appear.  Many people commemorate this miracle by having a special goblet – a Miriam’s Cup – on their Seder table during their Passover seder.  There is a special prayer that accompanies the use of Miriam’s Cup:

Zot Kos Miryam, kos mayim chayim. Zeicher l’tzi-at Mitztrayim.

This is the Cup of Miriam, the cup of living waters. Let us remember the Exodus from Egypt. These are the living waters, God’s gift to Miriam, which gave new life to Israel as we struggled with ourselves in the wilderness.

Blessed are You God, Who brings us from the narrows into the wilderness, sustains us with endless possibilities, and enables us to reach a new place.

“Miriam’s Cup blessing” Copyright 1996 (Matia Rania Angelou, Janet Berkenfield, Stephanie Loo). Kol Ishah, PO Box 132, Wayland, MA, 01778

Tonight, as my family and I  bless the Shabbat candles, say Kiddush over the grape juice and thank the Holy One for the bread that graces our table, we are also going to raise Miriam’s Cup and thank God for the water that we drink every day. We will pray that wells will spring up all over the world so that children will have as much clean water as they need when they need it.

Ken yehi ratzon – May it be God’s will.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved. I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site and purchase it from Amazon, I may receive a very small commission on your purchase. You will incur no additional cost, however.

I appreciate your support.

A Wake Up Call

I have not been sitting idly by watching the world around me “go to Hell in a hand basket” as my grandmother used to say. I have been more than busy for sure with children moving away, finding and starting a new job and myriad other of life’s challenges. Yesterday,  however,  I received my blog wake up call.

It’s not that I didn’t have plenty to write about when Phoebe Prince took her own life as the result of cyber bullying on the part of her classmates.

I had even more to say about the suicide of Tyler Clementi whose roommate and his girlfriend video taped Tyler in his private space and then posted the video on the internet.

I could write  for hours about the  political attack ads currently airing thanks to the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission decision by the Supreme Court allowing anonymity of funding sources and unrestricted donation amounts.

Yet none of these got me to sit down at my computer to blog about the childrens books and their values content that we – and the Supreme Court, Rutgers and high school students everywhere – should be reading to get ourselves back on track.  No, it was yesterday’s New York Times headline: “Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children” that got my tushi in the chair.

Are they kidding – apparently not, according to this article.  The economic downturn is not the only cause of the downfall of the picture book. It’s “The Parents,” says the article.

Yes, according to the NYT parents everywhere are pushing their children out of picture books and into chapter books in order to improve their scores on standardized tests. Four-year-olds are reading Stuart Little, Five-year-olds are reading The Phantom Tollbooth. Has anyone discussed with “The Parents” the difference between reading and comprehension or the importance of choosing books for their age-appropriateness not just for reading-level? There are picture books as appropriate for adults as are for 4-8 year olds simply because the power of the words rests as much in the life experience of the reader as in word definitions. The pictures simply add to the drama of the story.

Here’s an idea: Teachers, Librarians, Children’s Book Lovers everywhere suggest that everyone go back to basics and read – a picture book!  Let’s start here:

The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper. Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska.  © 2007, Abrams Books for Young Readers.  Ages 4-8. In this very beautiful, very simple, extraordinary book, a grandfather explains the Golden Rule to his grandson. “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.” Found in all the world’s religions and cultures, it is an easy statement, but apparently very difficult to live by. As Grandfather says, “‘You can’t make everyone in the world practice the Golden Rule. There’s only one person you can ask to do that.’ ‘Me?’” Says his grandson. “‘You. It begins with you.’”

Perhaps, if we start with the basics,  the hand basket we are all riding in will change direction as a result.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

P.S. As you can imagine the Kidlitosphere has been abuzz with the news of this article in the NYT. My favorite blog was written by MotherReader and of special note is the blog of the mother interviewed in the NYT article regarding how her comments were taken out of context.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
The Book used in this review was from my personal library.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site and purchase it from Amazon, I may receive a very small commission on your purchase.

You will incur no additional cost, however.

I appreciate your support.