Are the Times Changing?

Three articles arriving one after the other have raised my blood pressure recently.

–        “The School that Opted Out” by Julianna Baggott

–        “Heather Has Two Mommies Turns 20” by Leslea Newman

–        “Scholastic Censors ‘Luv Ya Bunches’ from Book Fairs.” by Rocco Staino

I have thought, long and hard, about how I could put into words my reactions, my feelings about the contents of these pieces. What could I write that could possibly make a difference, effect a change in what has been written? How can I respond in a positive way to what I so strongly disagree with?

I could rant and rave, call principals and teachers, congress people and librarians, Scholastic, perhaps all of publishing on the carpet declaring them all wrong (of course) and me all right (of course). I am pretty good at that, but it doesn’t feel right. Why add fuel to the fire.

I could stay silent and let it all pass over and wait for a quieter moment, an easier topic to write about. Not being the silent type, that doesn’t feel right either.

Instead, I decided to look through the piles of books in my office to see if there might be an answer or two there. As always, the response was right under my nose:

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We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures

© 2008We Are All Born Free Amnesty International. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

Ages 4-8

In celebration of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 30 artist-illustrators from around the world have provided art for this extraordinary picture book representing a simplified version of these rights for children of all ages.  A profound and meaningful way to begin discussions of the theme: “Dignity and Justice for All.”

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Somewhere Today: A Book of Peace

By ShelleSomewhere Todayy Moore Thomas. Photographs by Eric Futran.

©1998 Albert Whitman & Company.

Ages 3-8

Beautiful photographs of the world’s children with their friends and families demonstrate the many ways they create peace everyday by taking care of each other and the world,  like “planting a tree,” “visiting someone who is old” or “reading a book.”  The text is simple enough for even the youngest child to understand.

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Peace Week in Miss Fox’s Class

By EileePeace Week Miss Foxn Spinelli. Illustrated by Anne Kennedy.

©2009 Albert Whitman & Company.

Ages 4-8

I wish I were a student of Miss Fox. She has the best ideas! As her student’s quarrel and squabble with each other, she implements the idea of Peace Week. The language of this book is simple enough that even the youngest child can understand. The dilemmas faced by the students are realistic and the solutions easy to appreciate: “Don’t say mean things,” “Help others,” for example. The artwork is expressive, colorful and fun. It would be easy to implement a “Peace Week” in your own school using the ideas in this book. Perhaps children’s publishing could institute a Peace Week and we all write happy blogs and blissful news for one entire week.

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I believe that Shalom Bayit, peace in the house, and Derekh Eretz, Common Courtesy/Respect will always take us farther than intolerance and misunderstanding.  Who would ever have thought that Bob Dylan would be writing about his own generation when he composed the  lyrics to The Times They Are A-changin’ :

“Come mothers and fathers/Throughout the land/And don’t criticize/What you can’t understand/Your sons and your daughters/Are beyond your command/Your old road is/Rapidly agin’./Please get out of the new one/If you can’t lend your hand/For the times they are a-changin’.”

Indeed.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

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I received the copies of We Are All Born Free, Peace Week in Miss Fox’s Class and Somewhere Today that I reviewed in this blog from the publishers at my request.

I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click to Amazon from the book covers of books pictured in my blogs and buy something, I receive a portion of the book price.

© Kathleen M. Bloomfield of forwordsbooks.com

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