Go Set a Watchman

Sometimes people are not who you think they are.

Sometimes those very people are your own parents.

Sometimes it’s yourself.

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My Ántonia

What is it like to arrive in a new country? To not understand a word that people are saying?

This difficult journey is discribed with great feeling by Willa Cather in My Ántonia. Yet, it is not through Ántonia’s perspective that we learn of her struggles, but through the eyes of a young orphan boy named Jim Burden. At times it is as though the other homesteaders looking in do not understand Ántonia’s family’s situtation, such as when they were not fully prepared for their first winter. Jim’s grandmother wonders why Ántonia’s mother did not have the mind to keep chickens that winter, when perhaps the very act of acquiring the birds was more than she could handle in her culture stressed induced state.

The interesting thing is that Cather observes about half way through the book is it was the oldest children of the immigrant families, who had to work hard just to have food to eat, who when they stuck out on their own were the most successful. More successful than the American children and even their younger brothers and sisters.

This idea of struggle creating resiliency in people is something that has recently been brought to people’s attention through the media. Jane McGonigal did an interview on the Agenda with Steve Paikin recently where she told the story about a video game she designed to help her recover from a concussion and how it’s now being used to help other people recover from various diseases and truamaic situtations. We often so  hear about how difficult situations can bring people down, that we forget that in the end they can help people to become stronger, just like the immigrant children in Cather’s book.
Here is a TED Talk featuring McGonigal and her story:

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A Year of Reading the World

Last week I stumbled across this TEDtalk by Ann Morgan about her 2012 journey of reading the world. In her “Year of Reading the World” Morgan read one book from every country in the world as a way to broaden her horizons. This put me to thinking, how many books have a recently read by authors of different nationalities? This is the list I arrived at:

The Bible

The Element by Ken Robinson (United Kindom)

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv (United States)

Things Fall Appart by Chinua Achebe (Nigeria)

Soon after I picked up The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (Sweden)

And I am Malala (Pakistan) is sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read for a Facebook book club my friend and I am doing together.

While this is not a long list I am hoping to expand it in the near future, as I take the time to seek out books written by authors through out the world.

I have to agree with Morgan that reading literature from other countries really does help  us understand different cultures, yet at the same time they reveal the humanity that everyone possesses. Living cross-culturally I’ve learned that culture is not easy to understand, nor can reading one book bring us complete understanding of another, at the same time it is important for us to learn to look at the world from another persons perspective, even if it is for a short time.

 

 

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The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeard

Wow, could a book get any stranger? Well, I guess it could, but The Hundred-Year-Old Mand who climbed out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson started out strange and just continued to get stranger. The plot built and built adding more and more people to the mix. In a way it was like a children’s story where the same thing is repeated over and over again just with different characters.

If you like history with a twist and cartoon like characters than this is the book for you! If you don’t than I would suggest trying a different book.

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Last Child in the Woods

In Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv talks about how the natural world is being lost to our children. No longer do children have the chance to roam around in the world of nature. They’re either too busy or its seems unsafe among other reasons.

As I read the book, it brought me back to my own childhood experience with nature and how it has shaped my life. I am one of the fortunate children who still had a connection to the land through the family farm and later in early teenagerhood I moved to to a small hobby farm.

God’s creation was part of my life from the very beginning. I remember fondly in winter skating on the pond, walking out on the ice of Lake Ontario with my dad, and playing in the snow. There were camping trips to the Allegheny Mountains and Watkins Glen. When I was older I spent countless hours looking out the car window at the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. These memories bring joy to my heart.

As an adult one of my favorite place I lives was in Welland, Ontario. And what did I love? The nature. On Sunday afternoons I would hop on my bake and ride up and down the recreational canal or to the end of Merrit Island and back.

Welland Canal

Welland Canal

This past summer I visited Sweden and I enjoyed being in nature the best.

Little Library in Örebro Sweden

Little Library in Nature

Based on my own experiences I can see that Louv is right about the importance of nature in one’s life and our children should not be left out.

Near the end of the book Louv takes a look at nature from a spiritual perspective, and although he does not solely look at it from a Christian perspective, he does bring up the importance of nature to the church and how we as Christians need to joint together to preserve nature. God created the heavens and the earth and he made Adam and Eve care takers of the earth. Part of taking care of the earth is to build on and to use our creativity to make technology, it also means that we are to respect it and not damage it beyond repair.

Now looking at Louv’s book from the perspective of a librarian has caused me to think about how I can bring more nature into the library for the students that I teach. Of course, I can add more books which are nature themed and encourage the students to read them. Another way it could be done is to bring more plants into the library. I even had the idea to ask a student to be a guardian of the plants to keep them watered, this would add more participation to the library and ensure that the plants don’t die from lack of water. The last idea I had was to use the gigantic windows in the late winter/early spring to attempt grow some seedling and then give away the plants a way to people at planting time. This way the students would have a chance to see how a single seed can grow into a plant and also bring a little bit of nature inside. We could read books about things that grow such as The Carrot Seed and Cactus Hotel to help the youngest students learn about nature in person and through books!

tomatoes

Home Grown Tomatoes

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