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29 Gifts by Cami Walker

I’m going to switch gears this week and write about an adult book that has impacted me.

Cami Walker has multiple sclerosis.  At the point of devasting illness and deep depression,  she was challenged by her South African healer, Mbali Creazzo, to give away 29 gifts in 29 days.   29 Gifts: How A Month of Giving Can Change Your Life is her story

29Gifts

Cami Walker has a very different worldview from me.  She embraces lots of new age philosophy, acupuncture and yoga.  She is comfortable with all religions and visits a garden with statues to all the major religions of the world.  Cami has lived in San Francisco and now lives in L.A.

I live in Greenville, South Carolina at the heart of the Bible Belt.  I believe in one God, the Bible and Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation.  When I meditate, it’s on the scripture  For me to be too ecumenical detracts from the God I worship-the God who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.   I am  leery of vegan diets, alternative health plans, acupuncture, and idols to other gods.

Yet, I have been profoundly impacted by 29 Gifts.    Cami is unflinchingly honest.  She shares her bouts with self-pity and squabbles with her husband as freely as she shares her acts of generosity.

Cami’s  gifts  often do not involve  major planning. Nor is the giving out of obligation- .  Don’t we all know people who give out of martyrdom rather than joy?  Cami’s kind of giving is motivated by giving others delight, like making a  meal for husband or finding that just right present.  She also talks about receiving gifts graciously from others.

It’s clear that setting out to give 29 gifts changed Cami’s life.  Her health improved, she was able to get her business going again.

Lest anyone thinks I have donated a kidney to my ex-husband, my two main gifts to others have been handling out water bottles and picking up trash in my neighborhood while walking the dog.  I haven’t even focused on doing something daily just being open to opportunities. (like carrying a cooler in my car.)

I have had a difficult year of facing unemployment and limited resources.  This book has challenged me to live out my Christianity,  be grateful and to get over myself.  It has aided me in my spiritual struggle to leave the past behind and put away negative thinking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Holocaust Hero

 

 

PassagetoFreedom

Hiroki Sugihara was a young Japanese boy growing up in Poland in 1940.  His father was a Japanese diplomat.

One morning, he awoke to find hundreds of people crowded around the gates in front of his house.  All were Jews, all of them in great danger.  They wanted his father to write visas so they could leave the country safely.

The Japanese Government refused to allow his father to write the Visas.  He heard his father say to his mother, “I have to do something.  I may have to disobey my government but if I don’t I will be disobeying God.”

When he consulted his family, even his young son agreed that they must help these people escape Poland.  By writing these visas, his father helped almost a thousand Jews escape Poland

The Sugihara family were also forced to leave Poland and spend eighteen months in an internment camp in Soviet Russia.

.In the 1960s, the family began hearing from the “Sugihara Survivors,” Jewish people who had escaped almost certain death because of these Visas.  Chiune Sugihara was awarded the “Righteous Among Nations” Award.

This is an inspiring story about a very dark period of history.   This could be an excellent resource to use with elementary students with its focus on a hero rather than the atrocities.

 

Mochizuki

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Novelist: A Cure for the Reading Funk

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I have been in a reading funk lately. Even as a librarian, I find myself having a hard time connecting with that just right book.  Usually my motto is “So Many Books-so little time.”

Life feels stressful at present and I want pure escapism.  Perhaps I’ve worked so hard reading children’s books for this blog that I haven’t found time to read for  me.  Usually when I walk into a library, I feel like a kid in a candy store.  But sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by the choices.  My reading life has never fit in to simple categories.

One great cure for the reading funk is the Novelist Online Database.  It’s available on most public library’s webpages.  Library employees will be happy to share this resource with you.  Novelist recommends books for adults, teens and children. It links back to the library catalog so you can reserve the book

Novelist can…

  • help you locate all the books by your favorite author.
  • provide read-alikes for popular authors and titles
  • provide genre lists for countless interests.  (There are 8 themed lists for teen graphic novels and 13 themed lists for adult mysteries.)
  • locate a book with a particular setting.
  • find books in series
  • find informational as well as fiction books.

Once you locate a book, there are book reviews, age range, lexile levels and subject headings.  I have been using Novelist and Novelist K-8 for years. I have yet to tap into to all the resources available.

Novelist is a great tool for teachers and homeschoolers.  It’s easy to find books that supplement the curriculum.  Historical fiction can be a great way to help students grasp history.  Parents can also use Novelist to help children explore their interests. This database has evolved over time to meet the changing needs of its users.

Novelist is as its best recommending books to upper elementary, teens and adults. The upper elementary years  can be a golden age of reading. .  During this time, children begin getting more specific in their reading choices. If we want children to enjoy reading, we need to offer them lots of choices. There will be more competition for entertainment as children reach their teens.   Finding the right books for children and teens is a key ingredient in creating lifelong readers.  Novelist is a great tool in this process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting Them Reading..

Some children take to books like ducks to water. Others need more encouragement.  Here are ways to encourage your child to read more…

Adult Reading

Be a role model.  Make time to read for your own enjoyment.  Last summer’s public library reading program included a program for adults.  Many people were eager to sign up their children but would cite excuses for themselves like “I don’t have time.” or “I am too busy reading to my children.”

 

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Limit screens.  I’m a lifelong bookworm and the Internet has impacted my reading time.  Time watching television or surfing the Internet is ultimately less satisfying than reading, playing  or creating.  Children need downtime.  It’s good for them to be bored sometimes.  If television and organized activities are always present, children lose the ability to create their own fun.  Unstructured play is crucial to healthy childhood development (but that’s another post.) Children are more likely to read when they have unscheduled time.

 

Use books to help children pursue their passions.  The DK readers feature many high interest topics with great pictures.  There are numerous Star Wars and Super Hero Books as well as books about natural disasters, sports and animals.

Boys often  prefer informational books to fiction.  Many of these boys are surrounded by females who tend to value fiction.. Be aware that the DK titles are more  difficult than the typical easy reader.  Visual appeal will attract reluctant readers.

.   Some children dislike reading because they are still struggling with decoding words. Being in touch with your child’s teacher is important.  But keep in mind that children do not all develop at the same rate.

If your child needs to practice reading, keep the sessions short.  In an earlier blog post, I recommended the You Read to Me, I Read to You books. These are set up as short poems for parents and child to read together.  Or just read some silly poetry together.    If your child is enjoying reading, they will make greater progress.   Reading aloud to children even after they become readers can reinforce their skills and show them the possibilities that reading can offer.

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