The “I am” book series by Brad Meltzer

We really enjoyed “I am Jane Goodall“, and learnt so much from it, so we went to scout out all the others in the series, and found these!

Here’s a look at the content from 3 books – can you match the pages to the books? I loved how they portrayed the lives of these inspiring people in such detail, yet in a way that is very relatable to kids.

I also liked the fact that Brad Meltzer writes his books backed by considerable research. He tries to use quotes from speeches such that the voice of the person featured comes through more.

And every book has at least one real photograph of the person featured, such that children get a glimpse of the person ‘in the flesh’, so to speak, beyond the cute illustration. I found that this addition at the end of every book brings home the point that this is not just fiction, but a story about a real person. True stories are just all the more inspiring!

We particularly enjoyed reading with the girls about Helen Keller, Amelia Earhart and Rosa Parks. Those were stories of such grit and triumph in the face of such overwhelming odds. It makes us hope that when we are tried as such, that we may come forth as gold too.

I found it interesting that “I am Amelia Earhart” did not mention that Amelia went missing during her attempt to fly around the world, and that her body was never found. Perhaps this was considered too morbid for a book that is suitable to be read to toddlers. But somehow I wished that it was mentioned, since it shows the truth about how high the cost can be when we choose to pursue our dreams to the very end. It would have also made the point that Amelia’s passion knew no limits, and she was willing to take the ultimate risk in pushing the boundaries of possibility.

Six year old B said her favourite book was “I am Rosa Parks”. She said it was interesting to learn about different water fountains for different races, and she asked if we were “white”. To which I told her, we’d be considered “yellow” in America or Europe. To which she said, “That means we are coloured?” Yes, that is right, my dear.

This was why we found Rosa Parks’ story an invaluable springboard for a particularly good conversation on the concept of race and non-discrimination. B agreed that it was wrong to separate people in this way, and we talked about how God created all people as equally valuable to Him.

Even though Rosa Park’s experience took place so many years ago, I found this story applicable even in modern day Singapore, where discrimination is insidious, subtle and too often condoned.

It reminded me that whilst deploring segregation between white and coloured in those times, and speaking up against the chilling recent events of Charlottesville, we should not pretend that yellow privilege does not exist here. Even without having segregated lifts, pools or bus seats, there can be subtle discrimination in who we choose to associate with, who to employ, and how we speak of other races to our own children.

The most effective way against having racism take root in our lives, is to reach out and have conversations with people of all races, and to encourage our kids to do so as well, whether it is in school or simply at the playground, which is the best place to make friends!

And since such important values are always caught more than taught, I took it as a reminder to self, to be mindful of how I relate to others.

 

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