In this collection well-known writers tell their personal stories about how the wonder, the chaos, and the pain of raising children has led them to engage more deeply with the world, with themselves, and with other people. Essays by Barbara Kingsolver, Barry Lopez, Anne Lamott, and Alexandra Fuller, among others, reveal the ways parenting transforms the parents as well as the children. Some writers are practicing Catholics, Protestants, Jews, or Buddhists, while others claim no particular religious or spiritual affiliation
The Author’s Note
Before my daughter turned two, she began ignoring questions she couldn’t answer. Then she moved on to giving answers which she knew to be false. I realized that she had grown accustomed to being celebrated every time she answered a question correctly and was, naturally, less interested in exchanges that didn’t produce this response. But I also realized something even more important: I hadn’t taught her to say “I don’t know” let alone celebrated her ability to do so. In all social and emotional learning, children need our help identifying the many new feelings they experience: “Oh, that batman costume scared you,” or “I know, you feel sad when mommy leaves.” So I went looking for a children’s book that would help us talk about the experience of not knowing, but I couldn’t find one.
We live in a society where people are uncomfortable with not knowing. Children aren’t taught to say “I don’t know,” and honesty in this form is rarely modeled for them. They too often see adults avoiding questions and fabricating answers, out of either embarrassment or fear, and this comes at a price. When children are embarrassed or afraid of not knowing, they are preoccupied with escaping their discomfort, rather than being motivated to learn. This robs them of the joy of curiosity.
I believe that one of the most important gifts we can give our children is the confidence to say “I don’t know.” Identifying and expressing the feeling of not knowing is the first step in learning. It’s the foundation from which we begin our investigation of the world: asking questions, taking the necessary time to understand the answers, and searching for new answers when the ones we have in hand don’t seem to work. The feeling of not knowing is also the source of wonder and awe. I Wonder is a book that celebrates the feelings of awe and curiosity in children, as the foundation for all learning.
This is a wonderful Christmas story that draws on the wonder of southwest Native American tradition enveloped in beautiful pages of N Scott Momaday’s artwork. The work especially lends itself to a reading on a winter night in the company of family and friends. The experience helps to counter the length and chill of the winter days and complements the many celebrations of this solstice season.
Among the greatest charms of children is their ability to view a simple activity as a magical adventure. Such as a walk in the woods late at night. Jane Yolen captures this wonderment in a book whose charm rises from its simplicity. “It was late one winter night, long past my bedtime, when Pa and I went owling.” The two walked through the woods with nothing but hope and each other in a journey that will fascinate many a child.
On the night you were born,
the moon smiled with such wonder
that the stars peeked in to see you
and the night wind whispered.
“Life will never be the same.” On the night you were born, the whole world came alive with thanksgiving. The moon stayed up till morning. The geese flew home to celebrate. Polar bears danced. On the night you were born you brought wonder and magic to the world. Here is a book that celebrates you. It is meant to be carried wherever life takes you, over all the roads, through all the years.
“The Phantom Tollbooth‘s message is bracing but benign: it calls on us to rise to the challenge of the world by paying proper attention to its wonder and difficulty. Boredom and depression are far from merely childish demons, not least because an adult has to battle them for so much longer. When [main character] Milo thinks at the book’s beginning that ‘it seemed a great wonder that the world, which was so large, could sometimes feel so small and empty,’ it must strike a chord with every reader, young or old.” — The Guardian
“The author responds to his young daughter’s questions about God by telling the story of creation using the image of God as a little girl doing an art project. The race, ethnicity and age of the girl change from page to page. The girl-child God uses all manner of paint, song, glitter, colors, darkness, light and clay among her creative tools. People are created in ‘bunches’ and ‘each one was a little different. Some were the color of deep, dark dirt; some looked like the pale sand on the beach. Some were boys and some were girls. Some were taller; some were shorter. Some were thin; some were round. And God thought they all looked just right!’” — Heidi Neumark,
“In a world increasingly torn by religious strife, the laudable motive behind this book is to try and answer the question “What is God?’’ and to give children a sense of universal brotherhood by celebrating similarities in differing religions. Boritzer starts off well, explaining some of the historical concepts of God, what the word religion means and how different religious groups worship.” — Publishers Weekly
I Hope You Dance-Lee Ann Womack
Janet believes that we must let our students create and innovate and find their art alongside their science, that we must create experiences that lead to wonder and that we must use our words and our love to be the brick and mortar foundation that they build their future lives upon.