Sunday, January 20, 2013

Project 101: Weekly Library Challenge - What We're Reading Now

I recently realized that our library, the County of Los Angeles Public Library will celebrate its 101st birthday this year, so this year I will share 101 books discovered or enjoyed because of our public library --  I am calling it Project 101. If I start this week and share 2 books each week, we will hit 101 by the end of the year, which is actually an underestimate because I would guess that, on average, we probably have 20 books out from the library in any given week (often more) as well as 3-5 DVDs. Yet, writing about 20 books each week would be a bit much! :)

I have decided to share 1 kid book (i.e. a book that we are enjoying/discovering as a family), and 1 adult book (i.e. a book that I am reading). 

Very appropriately, this week I am highlighting Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama, illustrated by Loren Long (most known, probably, for illustrating The Little Engine That Could). I have been on an Autobiography/Biography kick and in searching our library system (online) for the Autobiography of Barack Obama, I came across this children's book and put in a request for it. I am very glad that I did. Whatever your political leanings, do not count out this book. 

It is wonderfully illustrated (my husband describes it as a cross between Dr. Seuss and Normal Rockwell in the illustration style). It also has a beautiful message as it highlights valuable traits for our children to have through amazing Americans, ranging from Martin Luther King Jr. to Helen Keller to Cesar Chavez to Neil Armstrong to Georgia O'Keefe to Jackie Robinson and so many more (Abraham Lincoln, Einstein, Sitting Bull, Maya Lin, George Washington, etc.), and ends with joyous words about how each of these people is part of who we all are too.

It is both captivating and inspiring. My 3 year-old listened intently as I read it and loved looking at the images. As I read to him about each extraordinary American mentioned in the book, he responded, we can do that, Mommy. This made me smile and had the perfect effect. Yes, son, we can do that: we can do art, we can work together, we can play baseball, we can go to the moon, and on and on and on. 

And what better timing, as we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the inauguration of Barack Obama, reading a book that honors the diverse, rich history of the United States and the amazing people that have contributed to building and shaping this country.

As for what I am reading, well it is of a slightly different light and is not a book I discovered through the library, but rather a book I decided to revisit: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin. I did a Jane Austin winter course in college in which we read all of her books. It is often interesting to revisit books at different times in life. Reading this classic piece of chick lit, as it is often called, now is very different than when I read it in college. Then, I got caught up in the romance of it. Now, I noticed more the wit of the book and found myself thinking a lot of social class, social structure and how different it is for women today than it was then. 

It certainly fits well within my focus of 2013: abundance and gratitude. Reading a book set in an historical time when the fortune of a man was primary in marital decision-making, and when women had so many restrictions placed upon them reminds me of the abundant life that I live now, in which I dictate my life - choosing who to share my life with (on the basis of love alone), when to start a family and how to shape that family life, both personally and professional. Abundance indeed.

Here, too, is where I see the overlap in these 2 books. Of Thee I Sing also connects to those freedoms and choices, in that so many people in the book connect to my ability to make the choices I have made, people who have sacrificed and struggled for the goals of freedom and equality. In a different time, choosing to share my life with a man whose ethnic and racial background differ from mine would have been, if not impossible, then a very difficult and even dangerous choice. And if my boys had been raised a generation ago, they would have not grown up with a President whose parents looked a lot like theirs. I am grateful that they will be raised knowing, truly, that they can be anything they want, with so many historical examples that verify that, and that I am able to love the man I love openly and proudly. Again, abundance indeed. 

I love sharing! Shared this post at:

Kid Lit Blog Hop

You might also like:

Diversity, Character, Parenting and MLK
{Perspective} When Things Fall Apart
Teaching Gratitude


  1. Great idea!!! Love this new series! I also agree those are 2 good choices to kick things off! I love anything Jane Austen!

  2. Love this new series! What a fun idea! And great choices to kick things off--I <3 Jane Austen!

  3. I really like the sound of the Barack Obama book - it seems like something quite special.

    Thanks so much for linking up :)

    Sarah @ A Cat-Like Curiosity

  4. i love both of these books and JUST picked up sense and sensibility again.

  5. We read the Barack Obama book too. I really love the pictures!

    I am featuring this post on the Read.Explore.Learn. Facebook page today.

  6. What a,great series! I can't wait to check out the kids'book, and I love Sense and Sensibility. Totally agree with your comments about getting different things out of books at different times in your life.

  7. This is very cool! I love that creative idea. Thanks for sharing and linking up with the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  8. I've heard wonderful things about Barack Obama's book, but seriously, where did he find the time? lol I love the idea you have for your project 101 - I'd be so afraid to make such a commitment!

    Thanks for linking your post into the Kid Lit Blog Hop! :D