Thursday, July 14, 2011

Books & Learning Lessons

I purchased books for Ilah before she was even born and started reading to her when she was just a tiny baby. When she was around six months old, I introduced her to her beginner books {My First Words and My First Numbers}. Repetition in reading to Ilah has been an important thing for me to do daily, and has enabled me, as her mom, to provide her with initial comprehensive learning. It makes me proud when anyone asks her how old she is, and she puts up one finger...or when I ask her where a certain number or color is, or an object or an animal, she gets it right on her first try {her monthly milestone posts have noted her progress and I love that I took the time to record them}. It shows me that she has been processing everything that I've been teaching her.
Ilah has a love for books - and will grab one over a toy when entering her room or her downstairs play area and will either sit and look through the pages on her own, or will bring you the book wanting you to read it to her. She has books on a variety of topics: Animals, Numbers, Words, Bible/Christian/Prayer, Body Parts, Going to Bed, Holidays, Mickey/Minnie Mouse, Dora the Explorer, and on and on and on. A few months ago I purchased this one called A Child's Good Morning Book.
It's a fun book about what happens when morning begins but what I loved most was that the pages were filled with babies/children of all different races....

I purchased the book at TJ Maxx for $4.99.

I am a product of an interracial marriage. My father was a good 'ol white "surfer dude" and my mom is from Panama. Growing up, my peers didn't know how to classify me...I wasn't "white" nor was I "black". A mature perspective of the world isn't obtained usually until an adolescent has grown into a young adult so there were many uncomfortable years of having to endure the occasional mean comments from my peers. Yes, I had fun friendships growing up but for as long as I live I will never forget the words said to me by one of my 4th grade classmates [at a Christian school] who told me at recess that he didn't pick me to be on his team because "God cooked me too long". As I entered into middle school, racism started to fascinate me - in the sense that I was intrigued to know why certain people exuded it, and others didn't. My 7th grade teacher took notice of my passion for the senselessness of it as it came out during the class discussions that centered around the book "To Kill A Mockingbird". Furthermore, my chapter essays were always lengthy and well thought out for a student my age. It was in that 7th grade classroom that I found the answer to my question: there are no genes or chromosomes that account for prejudice behavior. Prejudice is learned, it is not inherited. At the conclusion of the book, my teacher kept me after class one day and asked if me and my best friend {who was white, and was also in my class} would like to further educate the class on race acceptance. She allowed us, her students, to have a voice for an entire hour, during her class period. It was something I will never forget.

Mean words were still being spewed at me once I entered high school, but this time by black girls telling me that I was trying to act white. I wasn't try to act white, or be black. I was just being me. I played sports {basketball and ran track}, was a part of the Christian club, the writing club, and the drama club. I was our high school's baccalaureate speaker. I was a very well rounded young adult and simply inserted myself into groups that drew my interest. I never ever allowed the skin color of others to keep me from knowing them; I embraced cultural differences and didn't understand how others could be no narrow minded.

We cannot change the thinking mentality of others. We can only be responsible for our own actions and live by example. This world is tainted and will never be free of intolerance - and while although we never want to expose our children to the unkindness of others, the fact is that they will see it and depending on where you live, the likelihood of them experiencing it is highly probable. My job as a parent is to raise a confident child who finds beauty not only in herself, but also in others. I want Ilah {and our future child/ren} to respect others, embrace differences, and not see the outward skin color of those around them. I never remembered a teacher emphasizing this as I grew up. But what I did remember is the lessons being taught to me by my parents. And now that I am a parent myself, I am being intentional about passing those lessons down to my child/ren. And it's never too early to begin that impartation - which, for me, has started by me reading books to Ilah that show children of all different races in it.

While my mom was visiting the Family Christian Store some time ago, she spotted this book....
It teaches children that prayers are important to God and that no matter when you pray, or where you pray, He always hears you. I love this book not only because of the spiritual connotation, but also because the pages show children of all different colors.....

That book is on a shelf in Ilah's closet for now as the pages are a bit lengthy and she can't really process the message at her current age. I tried reading it to her a few times and aside from looking at the pictures, she was mostly fascinated with how easily the thin glossy pages could be easily ripped out!

This week while I was in the store with Ilah, I got this book {for Ilah's 2nd birthday} called You Are My Little Cupcake {that's the theme!}. I bought it because the pages were filled with babies of all nationalities....

And it showed how Daddies are hands on too ; )

This post unintentionally became a lengthy one, and took a direction that was unplanned, but nevertheless purposed. I hope that my child/ren will read these pages of my heart one day and know how much I wanted to raise them in every beautiful way.


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