Reach for the Stars, by Elma Robinson: read & share this book, you’ll be glad you did
Tiny things that can have life-long impact
If you take a tiny straight pin, then with it break the skin of a young sapling and scratch a thin line into its trunk, something dramatic happens. Over time, as the baby tree grows, that tiny scratch also grows…into a deep gouge within the tree.
We are so vulnerable, so impressionable, and so tender when we are young. Things that happen when we are wee saplings can end up deeply affecting us as we grow.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way s/he should go, and when s/he is old s/he will not depart from it.”
Clearly, how we train children, how we treat them and what we teach them matters. The experiences of childhood influence us for a lifetime. The experiences we have and the messages we are given will either nurture us, or need to be overcome through great effort and healing work when we are older.
I have a dear friend who has been a pre-school teacher her entire working career and I consider her a saint. We all know grandmothers who are angels. You’ve heard it said, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” Those who choose to work with children as educators are entrusted with a singularly unique kind of stewardship.
John Steinbeck states it beautifully when he wrote, "I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit."
Changes that create challenges
As a baby boomer who values formal education and life-long learning, it always surprises and often saddens me, when I think about how our formal educational system has changed. Many kids are passed on without gaining proficiency in their grade level; teachers are required to do so much more than educate; the number of kids on prescription drugs is staggering; the level of violence in schools is inconceivable; and the list goes on and on.
Despite all the statistics, there are great artists among us, in countless classrooms, and young lives are being shaped with love every day.
Children are growing up with the Internet and handheld devices that show violence, corruption and destruction in real time. But age-old values can still address and appropriate every challenge that is faced today.
In a marvelous book by Elma Robinson, an Elementary Teacher for 25 years, we get an intimate look into the demands, anxieties and deep satisfaction of exceling in the third grade. Reaching for the Stars is a moving story of Chloe Martinez, and her best friend Zoe. We go to school with Chloe and experience her thoughts, feelings, fears, challenges and triumphs. We find comfort and encouragement, especially from her Grandmother, and learn about the challenges her teacher faces, including the pressures and demands of standardized testing.
The lasting value of life lessons
Ultimately, the book is about aspiring and attaining rewards: primarily through reading, studying and doing well in school. Not so much in spite of the challenges, but through having support and a positive attitude while facing the frightening situations which shape us.
In Reach for the Stars we too are the beneficiaries of the wisdom of Chloe’s wise and loving Grandma. Chloe confides that her teacher doesn’t like her. At which point her Grandma gently reassures her saying, “Chloe, do not worry. She will with time.”
Then her Grandma gives her some excellent counsel saying, “Chloe, reach for the stars, try your best, and go above and beyond with your classwork! If you listen to everything your teacher says and follow the classroom rules, you will be on easy street.”
Anything worthwhile takes effort, discipline & support
One of the powerful aspects of the book is that we feel the anxiety, the pressures and the fears of Chloe and her friend Zoe. Their struggles are real and the counsel that Chloe’s Grandmother gives is honest, caring and realistic. Chloe follows her Grandma’s direction and goes on to do very, very well. But as with anything worthwhile, it took effort, discipline and support.
In the same way that truth resonates, despite coming from disparate sources, the lessons in this book apply to life at any age. This small volume carries a big message; and it is delightfully illustrated by Sonia V. Astorga. It has something for everyone, regardless of one’s age.
Read & Share this Book: You'll be Glad You Did
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