Our Gifts of Reading Keep on Giving, Sowing Seeds of Knowledge, Empathy and Understanding

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.”                                                                                                                                                                                                             Joyce Carol Oates

Every Christmas I relish visiting my favorite bookstores and selecting books for my grandchildren to put under the tree. I want them to experience the love for reading that I have had since I was young.  It has taken me to far away places and given me new insight into many different cultures and life experiences.  While reading John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath,  I became part of the Joad family, as they traveled to the promised land of California during the Great Depression in search of a new life, experiencing all of their trials and tribulations along the way.

Looking back, I think reading has helped me to be more understanding of others who hold vastly different cultural, religious and political beliefs from my own.  I find myself searching for and embracing what we have in common, and celebrating our universal quest for love, peace and wellbeing for our families and communities.  These have become central themes in my art.

Let's pass along these gifts that reading brings to our children.  An online reading series for k-12 educators, the Global Literature Online Book Group for Educators, does just that.  It explores literature from five global regions: Africa, Asia, Latin America, Russia, the Middle East, and the Islamic World.  Created by a partnership of international study centers at Harvard University, teachers have the opportunity to discuss works of global literature with experts and authors in monthly, online conversations.   They can then share these experiences with their students.

Tellin' Stories, is a parent organizing project of Teaching for Change, enabling students, parents, teachers and the community to use "the power of story to connect people from diverse backgrounds, to pass on valuable information and experiences and to organize collective action".  TheirRoving Readers program brings the joy of reading to classrooms, breaking down class and cultural boundaries and improving student literacy, which as a teacher, I believe is vitally important.

The Gifts of Reading Keep on Giving, Sowing Seeds of  Knowledge, Empathy and Understanding.