The Barefoot Book of Children: Battling Ignorance in the Young Generation

Photo Credit: PR Newswire

Photo Credit: PR Newswire

With the political, economic, and personal problems we deal with on a daily basis, we might forget one of the most important debts we owe to the world we live in. We cannot ignore our children. As parents and teachers, we should take care to give them the knowledge that would help them survive in the world, especially the modern world of the 2000s. Tessa Strickland’s and Kate DePalma’s The Barefoot Book of Children brings some of these pressing issues to our attention. The book motivates us to think about the conversations going on around us. We should consider how the media affects our lives and, in particular, the lives of our children. The issues going on in the world are too important to ignore, especially if we think about how they influence our children’s intellectual, psychological, and social development. We cannot let them grow up in ignorance of what is going on around them. Neither should we let our children look at the world through rose-colored glasses. As parents, guardians, and teachers, it is our duty to help them become aware of the issues at stake in our daily lives. The book encourages us to think about how we raise them and what we need to do to help them become intelligent members of society.                                     

One of the central messages that the book communicates to us is that we must be aware of the kind of information to which we expose our children. Children are naturally curious and thus eagerly absorb knowledge. As parents, guardians, and teachers, we should help them pay closer attention to the individual, social, and religious problems that are part of our reality. According to PRNewswire, “With all of the divisive, and often depressing, conversations in the media, even the most optimistic among us can feel a little helpless, especially when we think about our children, and the future world they might inherit.” If we look at the news, for example, we would find plenty of stories that inform us of the tragedies of the world. We read about terrorist attacks, invasions, and violence. We also read about refugees who seek to find a safe and peaceful harbor in a place where there is no suffering and pain. In view of these daily struggles, we might feel somewhat helpless as we try to raise our children and look at the world for which we are preparing them. We should realize that it is our responsibility to equip them with the skills to face the world into which they are born. The book encourages us to consider some of these issues.

The publication also motivates us to think about the values on which we raise our children. In particular, we should look at what we emphasize as we teach them to adapt to the world of the 2000s. One of the messages we gather from the press release is that “[b]ooks offer an accessible resource for parents and educators to discuss topics children sometimes struggle to grasp, including differences in appearances, beliefs and lifestyles.” The press release draws our attention to the role of reading as such. We no longer read books just for entertainment. For us, they now have a much more important function. Through them, parents and teachers can make complicated topics accessible to children. Topics such as family tensions, gender differences, as well as political and social conflicts come alive for young readers as they look at them in story form. For this crucial reason, we should encourage our children to read books like The Barefoot Book of Children.

One of the values that the book emphasizes is togetherness. In a world where conflicts constantly split families, we need to focus on staying together and sharing love and compassion with those around us. The book actually moves us to think about the importance of family and the bonds that keep us together. If we look at some of the The Barefoot Book of Children: Battling Ignorance in the Young Generation
political issues at stake, it is difficult not to notice how they tend to divide people. In the end, we may come to realize that while we are different in many ways we still share a common humanity. We also share the same earth that we all have a right to no matter where we are or what we do. Strickland and DePalma’s book motivates us to focus on the importance of togetherness. According to the book, “[w]e all have love to give. There are lots of ways to show people you care, like saying sweet things, offering your help or just spending time with them.” In a world where people are increasingly drifting away from each other in response to political, social, and religious conflicts, it is our responsibility to give love and warmth to those around us. 

In addition, the book focuses on diversity, including the multiplicity of ideas, beliefs, personalities, and lifestyles. Again, we should consider the kind of environment children grow up in. Even if some of us have been raised in religious families, we are aware that there are many people who are agnostic and that it is their unique choice. To communicate this message to younger readers, Strickland and DePalma suggest that every person has his or her individual attitude to religion: “Some people worship. Some people pray. Some meditate. Some like quiet time to think. Some people prefer to take life as it comes.” The book teaches young readers to respect the individual’s unique beliefs. We should be free to worship in the way we prefer and it is up to us and our children to make our own choices. 

Ultimately, we should think about how we teach our children as well as what we teach them. The book moves us to reconsider what we say and do in our everyday lives. We should teach our children to face our social, political, and individual conflicts. Strickland and DePalma’s book does more than draw our attention to them. It moves us to think about the positive impact that we can make as we help our children build their lives.

In Search of Truth and Recovery of Ideals: Muhammad Ali by Julia Prilepina

Muhammad Ali Enterprises and Jeter Publishing has just announced the publication of Muhammad Ali Unfiltered as a tribute to his humanitarian activity. In our time, when so much bloodshed turns people away from each other, many of us might have the urge to find spiritual guidance. For a while, we might feel pressured to conform to the latest fashions, follow the popular trends, and listen to other people’s views without giving ourselves time to develop our own. After struggling in the dark by ourselves, we might eventually turn to someone who can help us grapple with our chaotic reality – a figure who represents hope and peace. Muhammad Ali is such a figure.

    The book draws attention to the values that we might have lost along the way. By emphasizing the six core principles that Muhammad Ali lived by, it turns us toward the best in people. No matter what we do in life, whether we are sports champions, engineers, or simply clerks, we can all make our unique contributions to humanity. The book emphasizes the principles that guided Ali’s life and “align[s] with the mission of The Muhammad Ali Center, which helps to preserve and share Ali’s legacy and ideals, promoting the six core principles that he lived by: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality” (Simon and Schuster). Each one of these principles speaks to what it means to be human. We soon realize that Muhammad Ali was a profoundly enlightened individual who was guided by a powerful understanding of the bigger purpose of life. This purpose may seem quite obscure to us simply because many of us have staked our lives on getting ahead in the game.

    As we look at this book and the great person it tributes, we are introduced to a completely different level of development and a truly unique approach to life. Eventually, we learn that getting ahead was not at all the end goal for Muhammad Ali. He is guided by a philosophical and deeply religious attitude. Consequently, the book introduces us to a vision of life that surpasses the earthly. As we read, we are encouraged to help those who need guidance, comfort, or simply someone who would listen to them. In Muhammad Ali, we see a person who lived according to a unique set of principles the most notable of which was his attitude to religion and spirituality. Muhammad Ali believed in God’s presence in his life: “God is watching me. God don’t praise me because I beat Joe Frazier. God don’t give nothing about Joe Frazier… He wants to know how do we treat each other” (CNS News blog). He realizes that God cares about our attitude to those around us. Whether or not we are successful is completely beside the point, because, in the end, what matters is how we approach life and what we do for one another.

    The book explores Ali’s unique attitude to success. For him, success was about unwavering courage, hard work, and undoubtedly talent. A person who has invested so much effort in his profession and sweated blood to live his dream does not understand the meaning of the word impossible. Impossible does not exist for him. In fact, for him, “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion” (CBS News). We see that the standards he sets for himself are so high that he does not even allow for the possibility of calling anything impossible. He does not believe in it. According to him, people live in the world in order to explore their potential to change it.

    Muhammad Ali Unfiltered describes the life of a truly noble and enlightened person. In him, we see someone who actually lives and breathes at a much higher altitude than the typical consumer. The book motivates us to free ourselves from a complete fixation on our needs and wants. As we look at this book, we inevitably think about how our interest in our own comfort and pleasures could pull us away from an awareness of God and our responsibilities before other people. What we need to do, it seems to be saying, is rise above a fixation on ourselves. Ali’s example invites us to consider a different attitude to life, especially when we read the following: “When I get out of boxing, when I’m through, I’m going to do all I can to help people … Here’s bunch of boys need some money, and somebody’s calling me to help them. God is watching me” (Simon and Schuster). In his words, we sense the urge to help people, to rise above ourselves and our own interests and do something truly worthy for others. He calls us to action, motivating us to reform our lives and to come out of our isolated spaces in order to take in the world at large.

Muhammad Ali’s legacy lives on. The book tributes his unique approach to life, his courage, and his intrepid attempt to achieve the impossible. It commemorates the life of a genuinely talented person, someone who made every second of his life count. A great person who lived his life for other people, entertaining them in the ring, supporting them with money, has truly made the most of it. The book lives on in our minds, filled with the excitement of the moment and bubbling with the promises of tomorrow. Even after we finish the book and move on with our lives, a single phrase stands out in our memories: “Don’t count the days. Make days count.

Survival through Pain and Suffering: From Rags to Riches

By telling the step-by-step story of an average person in her book From Rags to Riches, Irene Inker presents us with an individual’s unique experience of finding a better life and recovering a sense of peace in an unfamiliar and seemingly hostile country. Survival… Many of us are so completely comfortable with our daily lives that we have become quite insensitive to other people’s suffering. By itself, the idea of struggling for survival seems foreign to us. It does not really concern us, after all. We live in the land of plenty. So, when we read about people who are forced to pull through, we cannot really relate to their experiences. We watch these lives from aside, quite comfortable in our own middle class spaces and quite certain that we are not likely to suffer through similar issues any time soon. 

After a closer look at this book, however, we realize that one of the lessons it teaches us is acceptance. As long as we are able to accept our reality no matter how painful, unpleasant, and irreparable it may be, we stand a chance at survival. It is not about making life better. It is about making life tolerable and “rising to achieve an American dream” (PR Newswire). In her dedication, the author says, “I dedicate this book to my enemies who thru their constant betrayals and backstabbing, made me to grow stronger” (PR Newswire). She dedicates the book to those who hurt her, since they taught her to stand up for herself and fight for what she believes in.   

On the other hand, disillusionment is also a result of the suffering she lived through. Life is not as rosy and beautiful as it may have seemed at first to the characters in her stories. The people who were forced to live through the horrors of betrayal and backstabbing have lost it all. Inker’s book offers a commentary on the suffering they experienced. Undergoing suffering and learning to cope with disappointment are some of the major aspects of human experience that the book makes us aware of. The themes in Inker’s book are further illumined by its language. According to PR Newswire, “The language is very simple; it walks you thru life adventures; sad, funny, wit, sarcastic.” In other words, the language in the book is accessible to readers, because it actually helps us connect to the lives of these characters. As we look at their experiences, the simplicity of the language captures our attention, stirring up feelings of sympathy, shock, and pain. 

The book also draws attention to major struggles that every immigrant experiences in an unfamiliar country. Finding a job and making enough money to make ends meet are concerns that every one of us encounters at some point. In her novel, Inker describes the obstacles her characters run into once they are up against these struggles. We are momentarily inserted in this reality as we are willfully taken out of our comfort zones and made to imagine what life is like under the most painful and difficult circumstances. 

At the same time, Inker’s book takes us on a tour of a life that we cannot really relate to. As we read about it, we look at people who are forced to deal with problems that seem completely overwhelming to them. Finding a job for the purposes of surviving and making ends meet is so much more challenging than looking for work in a homely and comfortable environment. One of the lessons we may glean from the obstacles these characters encounter is that we should never give up. The text captures the lesson we should learn in the following line: “If you want a job you will find a way; if you don’t, you will find an excuse.” After all, if we truly want to find a job, we will do anything no matter how backbreaking and even embarrassing our struggles may be. We will go out of our way to contact as many people as possible and send additional information about ourselves. For Inker’s characters, finding a job is especially important, because it will help them survive. We may learn yet another lesson from the book. According to the author, if we do not actually want a job, we “will find an excuse” not to do anything. The line rings true for us. Experience teaches many of us again and again that wanting is not getting. If we really want to find work, however, we will be able to get it no matter how difficult and impossible the search may seem. Thus, the book glimpses the lives of people who suffer through painful experiences and problems. It teaches us how to respond to difficult circumstances and put up with a reality in which we are not necessarily comfortable. 

Above all, the book focuses on the pain we experience when we lose everything that is precious to us. For us, even imagining ourselves in that kind of situation could be quite a challenge. Many of us may read about the struggles of these characters as we relax in the comfort of our own homes. Thus, a situation in which we suddenly lose everything we ever possessed could be almost impossible to imagine. On the other hand, reading the following line from the book shocks us to an extreme: “When you have lost it all, laugh. Do not be afraid anymore. Once you have lost it all, there is nothing more to be afraid of.” Really, we think, what could we possibly fear when everything that was once precious to us has slipped through our fingers? As soon as we lose everything we ever possessed, fear becomes impossible for us. There is nothing more to lose and thus nothing more to fear. Achieving fearlessness suddenly becomes a central goal for us. The book opens our eyes to what is most important in life. What is important, we realize, is not what we lose but how we react to the loss. Yes, it is painful when we lose everything, but, at the same time, the experience can free us from our attachment to the material. We lose everything and become fearless. 

Finally, Inker’s book has a cathartic overtone that becomes especially vital to our experience of reading as we endure all the hardships together with its characters. At first, we suffer and may even become embittered but, in the end, we cleanse ourselves and become all the better for the pain we experienced. In the end, we grow and become emotionally mature, psychologically stable, and spiritually enlightened.