Sunday, April 10, 2011
Wise at Heart, by Brody Hartman, Dr. Richard Steckel and Michele Steckel. Kids Can Press, 2011. $19.95 ages 9 and up
"Find out what you love to do (paint, write, sports), and if it doesn't hurt anybody, keep doing it. And doing it. And doing it.
Having been a kindergarten teacher for much of my professional career I had the distinct pleasure of 'starting over' each September. A new class, a new dynamic and another group of wide-eyed, thoughtful, caring young children who had no concern with race or class, gender or social standing. Would that we could all stay so innocent! Unfortunately for those dear sweet children life can get in the way, and they too often become changed by media, peers, and the behaviors of some adults in their lives.
Wise At Heart offers up the a much needed look at the world through the eyes of 'almost three hundred elders around the globe and nearly as many children'. Their insights are shared in three sections - Wise Inside, Peace Wise and Nature Wise. The striking and colorful photos of children from eighteen countries does the reader's heart good and makes it perfectly clear that no matter where we live, we are not so very different. I wish I could share many of the images with you!
Wisdom fills its pages and offers a chance for us to share the thoughts of people from around the world, providing an invitation for discussion and guidance. I want to share just a few:
"All you need to be happy is to be surrounded by people you love and care about." Clark, age 15
"Dignity is priceless. You can't buy it." Yasmin, age 11
"The greatest thing I could wish for any child is to care more passionately about something - books, music, frogs, pipe fittings, anything - than about the opinions of other people." Annie Barrows
"War solves nothing. Peace solves everything." Myles, age 9
"It only takes one person to change the world." Jonathan, age 6
""If a mountain could talk, it would mostly want to tell us that polluting is just killing ourselves." Gabe, age 13
"Run, play, laugh, be kind, smile, try, rest, learn, explore, love, hug, help." Michelle Quirk
I think that final one could be the mantra of so many of the wonderful young children who shared my classroom and my school life over the years. What better way to spend the days.
I hope that you will find this book and share the 'words of wisdom' contained within its pages. I imagine the warmth of the conversations, the quiet thought that ends the day and the chance to do what Mahatma Gandhi suggested for each of us: 'You must be the change you want to see in the world.'