An invaluable resource for any and everyone who has children in their lives! Jamie Martin has scoured the best in children’s literature from around the globe and compiled in one volume, book recommendations sure to appeal to the reader in your life.
— LeVar Burton, Reading Rainbow
This is an especially joyous post for me today. My dear friend Jamie C. Martin, who has been steadily working on a book for five years, released it into the world earlier this month, and I want everyone to know about it!
Please tell us about your book.
Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time is a global reading treasury for those “can’t-get-enough” book lovers, map collectors, adventure seekers, and wanderers-at-heart. It’s a resource for those who want their kids to grow up loving the neighbor next door as well as the one on the other side of the world. It’s for parents and educators who hope to raise world-lovers and world-changers.
The book includes more than 600 of the best children’s book recommendations from around the world, organized by region, country, and age range (ages 4-12). It also shares the story of how my own family became a multicultural one, with four nationalities represented under our roof.
Could you tell us about yourself?
My British husband Steve and I have been married for almost 18 years. We have three children. Jonathan, our biological son, joined our family first. Next came our son Elijah, who we adopted when he was still an infant from Liberia, West Africa. Both boys are now 11 years old. And our daughter Trishna joined our family from India at the age of 4—she just recently turned 13 (our first teenager, wow!).
I’ve been blogging for over seven years now, and my main online home is currently SimpleHomeschool.net, where I write alongside a fabulous group of contributors about intentional education, mindful parenting, and the joy found in a pile of books.
Where did the idea for Give Your Child the World first come from?
Back when I was a new mom, there was a book I adored. Actually I think you might have been the first to tell me about it, Caroline?!* Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt is all about using books in family life. In it the author has categorized the best classic children’s literature into a variety of lists that parents can easily use. I loved that she had done all the work so that I didn’t have to! I spent hours poring over that book as a young mom and starting our own home library.
But as our unique, multi-cultural family grew, I realized I needed a way to connect us more deeply to other cultures. We weren’t able to do much traveling at that time, but I found I could use books to add that new dimension to our family.
When I started looking for the best global books out there, I was more or less on my own to research and separate the good from the bad. That got me thinking about a reading treasury, like the one I had loved so much, but with an around-the-world focus. I thought about how much time it would have saved me save me, and eventually I thought I might as well create that resource for others!
How has children’s literature shaped your family’s everyday conversations?
Now that my kids are a little older, I can see many of the benefits that weren’t as obvious when they were still young. We have this rich book heritage, made up of all those pages we’ve read together, and I love that. So when things come up in the news, or even a personal challenge arises, often there will be a connection to a story that we can turn to for help and encouragement.
I like to think that in twenty years when the kids are grown, married, and have kids of their own, they might look back on their childhood through the lens of all the books we read. I hope these titles have taken root deep in their souls, building their characters page by page, strengthening them for when hard times inevitably come, and leading them to look not just for a career but a calling. A way to make a difference, big or small, in this world.
How has children’s literature played into your children’s understanding of the world around them?
You shared a quote with me years ago from Newbery medal-winning author Katherine Paterson that I have gone back to again and again. She said that “the books we read in childhood are a rehearsal for experiences later in life.”** And I couldn’t agree more.
Creating a family culture of books means our kids have the chance to live a thousand lives before leaving home. They can travel the world (and beyond!) all while safe within our four walls. They can feel the pain of a character’s flaws and learn from their mistakes, without having to experience the actual consequences. I don’t see reading as a way to escape reality, but as a way to prepare our kids for real life in a unique and beautiful way.
In recent years, organizations like We Need Diverse Books, Multicultural Children’s Book Day, and Lee and Low Books have brought a spotlight to diversity in children’s literature (and the lack thereof). What does Give Your Child the World add to the conversation?
It makes me so happy to see organizations highlighting this issue, and I’m thrilled to add my work to all that others have contributed. Give Your Child the World makes the process of finding multicultural books so much simpler for parents, families, and educators. Taking the time to research titles is something that busy mamas and papas often don’t have, and knowing that a trusted voice has done all that for them means they can get busy with the fun part: reading their way around the world with their kids!
And speaking of reading around the world, Jamie and Sarah Mackenzie of the Read Aloud Revival are pairing up to run an eight-week online book club which does just that. Click through to learn more. The adventure begins 27 June.
* It’s very possible! I have a memory of the two of us reading Gladys Hunt’s Honey for a Woman’s Heart: Growing Your World through Reading Great Books.
** I have to confess I’ve attributed this quote to both Katherine Paterson and Lois Lowry at various times and places! While I don’t know who originally said it, I do know I heard Katherine Paterson share these very words at an event in Washington DC in 2000 when talking about her Bridge to Terabithia.