Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Few of Our Gift Books

Yesterday afternoon there were a few minutes when I was knitting and all three of my boys were reading. I felt so blessed to have a houseful of reading sons! Even the busy toddler and the active preschooler were completely engaged in reading their new books. I want to share with you some of the books they have gotten as gifts that really have captivated their attention.

Max’s Money by Ken Wilson Max. A little boy named Max has a coin and is looking for ways to spend it. The book comes with a cardboard coin that is stored in a lift-the-flap wallet. You can put the coin in a slot on each page and miraculously when you turn the page, the coin has been put into the wallet on the next page. By moving the coin from page to page you can help the children in the story buy gumballs, use a payphone (what’s that?) and put money in their piggy banks. This is a delightfully clever book. Buddy is mystified as to how the coin always ends up in the pocket on the next page. I am not sure if he realizes it is always the same coin. He sits still and reads it over and over. I need to put in a supply of those coins before we lose the one it came with! Ken Wilson-Max is from Zimbabwe and now lives in London. He has written and/or illustrated a number of wonderful books including the Kwanzaa book I reviewed yesterday (K is for Kwanzaa), and My First Kwanzaa. He is an author to watch!

Animal Match novelty board book from baby einstein. Punkin loves this book because it comes with little animal cards. You are suppose to sort them and put the correct animal card in the pocket on the page with it’s correct habitat (the doggy goes in the doghouse). Punkin just likes collecting all the cards and carrying them around. When I am reading with him and ask him to put a card in the pocket he just smiles and says "No". A couple of times when I was doing something else I saw him going through the book talking to himself and putting the cards in and out. I think the process of matching and sorting and verbalizing about it is particularly compelling at his age. Again, this book needs a backup set of cards because these will get lost pretty quickly I am sure.

Buster is deep into reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen. I bought it on the recommendation of Shannon at Peter’s Cross Station and I started reading it myself. I gave it to him hoping he would finish it over the break and leave it here for me to read when he goes back to college. It is about the food we eat and how production and distribution of our food has changed in the last thirty years or so. Pollen traces the path of food from different sources and shows where everything comes from and how it gets to your table. It is fascinating to see the connections. Last night at dinner Buster was explaining to my parents and me all that he has learned about how prevalent corn is in our diet, and why. You have no idea how many food products depend on corn for sweeteners and starches. Anyone who has getting healthy and making good food choices on their list of New Years’ plans ought to sit down with this book first.

And what am I reading? Well I started Richard Wright’s Black Boy after getting all psyched about his haiku. I found it quite depressing, actually. It’s the story of his boyhood. He somehow survived and thrived in spite of a childhood of constant hunger and violence. It is really hard for me to read about how his mother and grandmother beat him time after time, trying to teach him to behave and stay out of trouble. His family lives in grinding poverty and his mother works desperately just to put bread in their mouths. They move constantly, sometimes to a better situation and often to a worse one. It is a wonder he ever learns how to read and somehow gets an education. It’s a chilling story but one that is true so I want to read it to keep reality in view and find some inspiration in it.

I put that one down last night because my copy of Outsiders Within came into the bookstore and I picked it up on Friday. I couldn’t resist reading the introduction last night. I was blown away. I don’t think this is going to be an easy thing to read. The list of contributors to this anthology of writings by transracial adoptees is long and impressive. Their point of view has been missing from the literature on transracial adoption, and their voices here are strong and passionate. I am sure many of my notions and assumptions about becoming a transracial adoptive parent are about to be challenged and adjusted. I may have to read this book in small bits over a long time in order to digest it all. I am sure I will have several more posts on it as I work through it. Anyone else reading it? I would love to hear your reactions and see links to discussions on it.


Cavatica said...

I love to see what you and your boys are reading! I definitely want to read Outsiders Within and will add it to my reading list immediately. Thanks!

Third Mom said...

Hi, there, Happy New Year! Hope your holidays have been wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I love your blog! I come back often and read it. (We are also an interracial family). I love your book suggestions!

Something I wanted to share.... a new blog website that is Christian owned and operated (but not limited to Christians). . It seems to be an easy, clean, family friendly site... no ads, foul language or lewd pictures. There are a lot of authors on the site too... I know you like books!

Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year!

zoe said...

Hi Clouds -

I purchased Outsiders Within while holiday shopping and have probably read two-thirds of it. It's not exactly what I expected - but not in a bad way - the overall style just isn't what I was expecting :) I read only a few pages before I picked up a pencil to highlight things that struck me and to add a couple of comments in the margins. I'm sure I will be going through it again. Let me know if there are any specific aspects you feel like discussing.