Monday, January 19, 2015

"We all God's children"

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. day, Kathy is sharing the story of her grandmother's friendship with a remarkable woman names Miss Lena. I hope you enjoy:

As I was scanning the book section of a local thrift shop, my eyes came to rest on a particular title, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I thought to myself, “Hmm, I wonder if the title implies what I think it does?” I picked the book up, read through the synopsis and decided it would be my purchase of the day.  Later in the evening, I began reading. As the minutes went by, I was transported to the south of my childhood. I was introduced to Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter. Aibileen and Minny are two black maids who work for the upper middle class white families and are commonly known as “the help.” Skeeter, a member of a prominent white family, and journalism graduate of Ole Miss, observes the division and racial tensions in the town of Jackson. While she ponders the situation, a spark ignites, which turns into a fire in her belly. Through a series of events she begins to collect interviews from “the help” which not only turns into a national best-selling book, but cements the friendship of two black women and a white woman during the turbulent years of the Jim Crow south. After I finished the last page, I smiled. Kathyrn Stockett’s best -selling novel was reminiscent of the friendship my maternal grandmother, Gram and I shared with a black woman named Miss Lena. Today, I would like to share with you the story of our friendship which spanned across two generations. 

For as long as I could remember, Gram and Miss Lena had been friends. Their friendship formed from a local church circle they belonged to. During my childhood, I remember Gram saying, “I’m going to visit Lena today.” I often accompanied Gram on these visits to The Hollow, Miss Lena’s predominately black neighborhood. Upon arriving at Miss Lena’s home, we were greeted with true southern hospitality. The first thing that caught my eye was the painting of the “Black Jesus” hanging in the center of the living room wall, flanked by a picture of Abraham Lincoln on the right and a photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the left. Miss Lena saw me gawking at the wall adornments and said, “Everyone sees Jesus in his own way. The Negroes see him as black, the whites see him as white, and the Chinese see him as yellow. It doesn’t make any difference, because we all God’s children.” When I asked who the other two gentlemen were, she began what was to become my first lesson in “civil rights” education. Gently, she explained how Abraham Lincoln had freed the slaves and how Dr. King was working to earn the same rights for black people as the white people had. Miss Lena’s oration had satisfied my inquisitive mind at the moment but had given me a thirst to learn more about the history of the civil rights movement.

As my formative years sped by into adolescence, my friendship with Miss Lena went to a deeper level as did my education on the topic of civil rights. Our conversations would take place over a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallow cream on top which Miss Lena had prepared for me. Miss Lena’s great grandparents were slaves brought from Africa to live and work on a local plantation. The plantation on which they lived was owned by a Mister Samuel E. Lee. Mister Lee treated his slaves more like employees than property and everyone was respected. Each enslaved person was required to go to school for half a day. The slaves were taught life and vocational skills because as Mister Lee said, “One day you will all be free, and you will need to be able to make your own way in the world.” Miss Lena’s grandparents were the first “free” generation on the plantation. Because of the generosity shown by Mister Lee, her grandparents decided to remain on the planation as employees. When Miss Lee’s parents became of adult age, they decided to leave the plantation and head north to a better life. Miss Lena’s parents built a house in the area of the city which would become the African-American community known as The Hollow because of the surrounding landscape which shaped it. Miss Lena and her siblings grew up in a modest, white clapboard, two bedroom home where later Miss Lena and her husband would raise their own family. Their family life consisted of attending a black school in The Hollow and regular church activities. Miss Lena’s father worked as a butler, while her mother worked as a maid for a prominent white family. Miss Lena said she always knew she would be a maid. Her grandmother had been a house slave, her mother a maid, so she would be a maid too. I asked her if she ever thought of being anything else. Her response was, “No, Miss Kathy, it was all I ever knew.”  

Miss Lena grew up, married Mister Robert and together they raised four children, two boys and two girls. Mister Robert worked as a chauffeur and Miss Lena worked as the head house maid for a white doctor named, William Bailey and his wife Elizabeth. The hours were long, with minimum wage pay. One day while Gram and Miss Lena were visiting, Gram asked Miss Lena this question, “Have you ever thought of doing something else with your life?” to which came the reply, “No, Daisy, being a maid is all I’ve ever known.” At that moment Gram looked her square in the eye and challenged her to think of herself as more than someone else’s property; to act on what she believed in, as she along with thousands of others had marched with Dr. King in Washington D.C. for “Jobs and Freedom” on August 27, 1963. To claim the opportunities in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This was the mid 1960’s, Jim Crow had ended and there was a better day coming according to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After all “we are all God’s children” as Gram reminded her.
Miss Lena took up my grandmother’s challenge. She had decided she was tired of being treated as “someone else’s” property and desired to better herself through the reading of literature and a higher paying job. Due to the white resentment of the Civil Rights Act, the Jim Crow Laws, though illegal, were still the standard for the African-American population of the area. Gram would check out books from the local public library for Miss Lena to read, and even helped her compile a resume that would give her the opportunity for better employment. Miss Lena ended up leaving her job as “the help” and went to work in a local business alongside Gram. The two women went to work together every day in Gram’s white Pontiac. At the beginning of the 1970’s both women retired and began the next two decades doing charity work for those living in The Hollow. In the late 1970’s Miss Lena was approached by the manager of a local coffee shop with the opportunity to come and work as a manager. With the encouragement of Gram, Miss Lena seized the opportunity. An employment position previously only available to whites was now available to her. Miss Lena worked in the local coffee shop for a decade and then retired. Because of their age and health issues, Gram and Miss Lena were only able to get together for visiting on a bi-weekly basis, but they did visit with each other on the telephone every day to encourage one another, to laugh and cry together, and to pray for each other.

During my years of conversing with Miss Lena, at the end of every conversation, she would look at me while saying, “We all God’s children. Red, and yellow, black and white. We are all God’s children, Miss Kathy.” At the time, I thought it was odd she would always repeat this phrase to me, but would nod my head while saying, “Yes, Miss Lena.” The last time I saw Miss Lena was the day of Gram’s funeral. Miss Lena scanned the crowd, looking for a familiar face. Once she had located me, she led her group to greet me. Standing there, we reminisced about Gram, her positive influence and how she had served the people of The Hollow. After the funeral service, I thanked each of the members of the community for honoring Gram’s memory by attending her service. Miss Lena hugged me, looked me square in the eye while saying, “We all God’s children, Miss Kathy. Red and yellow, black and white. We all God’s children.”


As we look to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let us remember that it is more than just another holiday on the calendar. Each year as this holiday in January approaches, I reflect back on the unlikely friendship of two women and one child, two white, and one black. For me, this holiday not only symbolizes our friendship but a never ending reminder that “We all God’s children.”

Thanks Kathy for sharing that story. What an example Miss Lena and your grandmother are to all of us. While there is so much work to still be done in our nation to heal the racial rifts, stories like this show us that it is through relationships and investment in communities that change can be accomplished. 

If you're interested in reading more about the history of African-Americans and the civil rights movement, check out these books:

Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates



Sojourner Truth, Ain't I a Woman? by Patricia C. McKissack



Carver, a life in poems by Marilyn Nelson

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor



We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comments section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages.  To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click hereAnd if you've enjoyed this, please feel free to share using the buttons below!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Win a d'Aulaire, Foster, Marrin, or Daugherty Pack!!!


We are very excited about this new giveaway. The winner will win her choice of one of our favorite packs:





Yeah! This is exciting. In order to enter, use the Rafflecopter below. You'll be awarded five (5!) entries for posting reviews of our products on our website (www.bfbooks.com) as well as on www.homeschoolreviews.com. You can also earn entries (1 each) for liking us on FB and for sharing this giveaway with your friends on Facebook. Please let us know if you have any questions! And all the best!

Terms and conditions:
1. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY
2. Eligibility requirements: entries must be from persons over the age of 18.
3. Giveaway begins on 01/16/2015 and ends at 12:01AM on 01/31/2015.
4. To be entered, leave a comment below. Additional entries are awarded for leaving BFB product reviews at www.bfbooks.com and/or http://www.homeschoolreviews.com and/or sharing this giveaway.
5. One (1) winner will win one (1) prize. Prize consists of winner's choice of one of the following:
-the James Daugherty Collection 
-the Genevieve Foster Collection
-the Albert Marrin Collection
-the D'Aulaire Biography Pack. Approximate retail value: $84.95-$126.00 depending on winner's choice.
6. Odds of winning: the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
7. Beautiful Feet Books bears no liability for technical failures or typographical errors.
8. Winner will be selected randomly on 02/01/2015 and will be notified on the blog within 24 hours. 
9. Winners have six months to claim their prize.
10. This giveaway is sponsored by Beautiful Feet Books, Inc. Contact at: letters@bfbooks.com or 800.889.1978
11. Open to residents of the US only.
12. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 12, 2015

Call for Reviewers and Link-ups!


Do you homeschool? Do you have a blog? Do you blog about your experiences of teaching at home? Do you blog about BFB? We'd love to feature you! We are going to be starting a weekly link-up where we share links to articles and blog posts you've written about education and home schooling. If you've put together some awesome Pinterest pages on educational materials and resources you've found to be helpful, share those too!

We want this blog to be a source of encouragement, inspiration, and shared stories and resources for home schooling families and all those interested in education and would love to partner with you.
We're also going to be giving away some curriculum to select bloggers who will be writing about their experiences. If you're interested in applying for that, send an email to rebecca (@) bfbooks (.) com with the subject line: REVIEWER.

We're really excited to see what you send us! We know you all have a lot of experience and wisdom to share, so don't be shy, get those links/articles/pinterest boards/reviews and more to us! Email your links to rebecca (@) bfbooks (.) com.


We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comments section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages.  To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click hereAnd if you've enjoyed this, please feel free to share using the buttons below! 

Friday, January 09, 2015

It's 800 years old this year!

2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta–one of the most important documents in western civilization! Foundational to establishing the rule of law this ancient document was groundbreaking for its time and influenced the formation of the US government. It was revolutionary in that it established the principle that the king was to abide by the laws of the land! This may seem obvious to us now, but up to that point, kings and rulers were often a law unto themselves and used their power to perpetrate abuses, benefit themselves and their cohorts, and basically use their kingdoms for their own benefit. Of course, the Magna Carta did not end that, but it established the principle that the ruler could be held accountable for his actions under the law!

The story of the Magna Carta is one that is full of intrigue, double crossing, revolutionaries, and a muddy field. It's a story you don't want to miss and what better time to find out more than its 800th birthday!

Also, there will be celebrations around the world to mark this important anniversary - the US Declaration of Independence and our Bill of Rights are even making a trip across the Atlantic for the first time to be displayed with the Magna Carta! Further information on this historic display available here.

Here's our favorite books on the topic as well as websites and additional resources.


The Magna Charta by James Daugherty
It was Ben Franklin who coined the phrase, "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God," and if any historical drama fulfills that maxim, it is surely the saga of King John and the drafting of the Magna Charta. Out of the rich turbulence of English history, June 15, 1215 stands apart as a significant milestone in the progress of human liberty. On that day, a brave band of barons, led by the noble Stephen Langton, and calling themselves the Army of God, stood up to the wicked King John and demanded that he restore the ancient laws of England that he had so unabashedly trampled underfoot. The era is a rollicking one filled with colorful characters like Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Richard the Lionheart, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, and many more. Newbery and Caldecott medal-winner James Daugherty brings his own passion for freedom's story to this wonderful saga of the thirteenth century. Daugherty devotes the last part of the book to a history of the "documents" of freedom—what he calls the "Children of the Magna Charta"—demonstrating how liberty has progressed over the ages. Two-color illustrations by the author enhance the drama of this text.

Polly Schouer Brooks
Accused of being a demon by those who could not tolerate her independence, Eleanor of Aquitaine made her mark as one of the most dynamic and extraordinary figures of the Middle Ages. Born in 1122, Eleanor refused to be confined by the traditional gender roles of her time. She became well educated, gaining political and governing know-how from her father, William X, duke of Aquitaine, and armed herself with the skills necessary to become an influential queen-first of France, and later, England. With an impact that reached beyond politics, Eleanor shaped the future of the arts and humanities. And in a time when women were viewed as inferior to men, the virtues of chivalry and courtly love were born. Once described by a contemporary as "a woman beyond compare," Eleanor of Aquitaine is a figure who will remain controversial, powerful, and enchanting in the twenty-first century.



Magna Carta 800th is an excellent website with all sorts of history and information.


Magna Carta – 800 Years On by David Carpenter


We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comments section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages.  To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click here.
And if you've enjoyed this, please feel free to share using the buttons below! 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Time Capsule from 1795!

Image source: Museum of Fine Arts

Photo credit Bernice Corpuz/WBZ
Last night was an exciting night at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. For a long time it's been one of my very favorite museums and if you're ever in Boston, you should definitely plan a visit. Last night the museum was in the spotlight because experts at the museum opened what is believed to be the oldest time capsule in the US!

The time capsule was discovered last month from the cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House! Inside the capsule was a silver plate that explained that the box was placed in the cornerstone by Gov. Samuel Adams and Paul Revere in 1795! How amazing is that?

More information on the contents, history, and how it was opened here and here. Can you believe that it took someone five hours to unscrew the screws holding the box shut? The MFA blog has a great and detailed article here.

This is the second time capsule opened in Boston in the past six months! The first was found inside a famous statue in Boston and is 113 years old. More info here.

All of this gets me thinking about putting together my own time capsule. If you were to put one together with your family what would you include? Have you ever put together a time capsule? To celebrate this amazing piece of history, let's put together our own time capsules! Post a picture here in the comments section so we can see what everyone includes. I'm so excited to see what everyone includes!

We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comments section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages.  To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click here.
And if you've enjoyed this, please feel free to share using the buttons below! 

Monday, January 05, 2015

New Year, New Reading Lists

Hello friends!

Well, it's a New Year and while I've eschewed resolutions the past few years, I do find this time to be a good one for taking stock of my reading and I want to hear from you! As you look back over the past year, what books stood out to you? Which titles did your children enjoy most? Which ones were failures? What about in your personal reading - any standouts?

I'm going to be compiling a list of my favorites and would love to include some of yours! And there will be a giveaway - so be sure to comment below so that we can put together an amazing list.

I cannot wait to check out your suggestions!

Happy reading,
Rebecca

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Role of Story in Instilling Meaning in our Children's Lives

One of the greatest gifts a parent can give their children is a sense of meaning and purpose. Often times parents say that they want their children to "be happy" and while this seems to be a laudable goal, I believe it misses the point. Teaching children that their happiness is the ultimate goal in life will, more than likely, result in children who grow to be deeply unhappy and disappointed adults. Recent research bears this out. Social scientists have found that "having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression" (source). Happiness is a byproduct of a full and meaningful life.


Meaning vs. Happiness
Additionally, as observed by Nazi concentration camp survivor and psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl in his book The Meaning of Life: "It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness." While this may seem like a contradiction it bears out both in experience and in research. "Happy people get a lot of joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others," explained Kathleen Vohs, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania where researchers found that those who pursue a happy life are associated with being "takers" and those who seek to live a meaningful life are more often "givers".

Where do stories fit in?

So, how does one instill in a child a sense of meaning and purpose? I believe that every parent wants their children to know that they inhabit a unique place in this world and that their lives have meaning. Whether we're affirming our children's value by loving and nurturing them or teaching them that their actions affect others, these are all a part of affirming a child's value. Fostering a connection to others is one aspect of showing our children that their lives have significance. Investing in the lives of others gives children an opportunity to see how they can positively impact those around them. One of the most effective ways to do this is to introduce them to the magic of story. Not only do stories educate intellectually, they reinforce emotional values. 

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge is one of my favorite children's books. In it the young
protagonist, Wilfrid, makes friends with an elderly woman who lives at the nursing home next door. They both have four names and become fast friends. His friend, Miss Nancy, has "lost" her memory and Wilfrid is determined to help her find it. And while the boy is only four-years-old, he accomplishes his goal. Reading stories like this to children from a young age shows them that even the youngest children can have lives of significance. Stories open up the world to youngsters who are naturally very self-centered and in doing so show them the limitless possibilities that are available to them. The relationship between Miss Nancy and Wilfrid is not one-sided, it's a beautiful friendship from which both individuals gain tremendous benefit. And I think that is an important part of teaching our children to be wholeheartedly empathetic and kind. Obviously, we don't want to raise children with martyr complexes who give of themselves out of an unhealthy compulsion. Instead, we want to encourage our children to see their immense value and worth and  then invest of themselves in rich relationships and meaningful projects.

Historical Context

There are many wonderful fictional stories like Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge that provide examples of dynamic people living meaningful lives. Many can be found in Honey For A Childs Heart or Books that Build Character or our Teaching Character Through Literature curriculum but the stories of history can be just as effective. It is in history that we meet other "givers" – people who shaped history and made the world a little better by their having been in it. We also meet people who serve as cautionary tales. The richness of history is that it is about people just like us and if we can teach our children that they will understand that they also have a place in history. By connecting our children with the great "course of human events" through stories, we can instill that sense of value and meaning that may just result in their leading happy lives!

I would love to hear about your favorite stories! What books do you read to your children in the hopes that they help your child understand his or her value? What historical characters do your children connect with?

We would love to hear what you think! Chime in below in the comments section and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages.  To learn more about Beautiful Feet Books, click here.
And if you've enjoyed this, please feel free to share using the buttons below!