After listening to Mrs. Robinson read aloud from Home of the Brave (Applegate, 2007) earlier this month, I was hooked and couldn’t wait to read it myself. It is the story of a boy named Kek who is a Sudanese refugee. After war destroys his home and family, he comes to Minneapolis (in the winter) to live with his aunt and cousin. It is a well-told story with vivid imagery created by the simple language of free verse.
This month’s theme—The Gift of Friendship—prompted me to mention the book in my message. I enjoyed many things about it, but the theme that resonated most deeply was the way characters helped others…and then accepted help for themselves. For example, Kek helps his cousin find a job (and connection to his deeper self) and then Kek’s school friend Hannah helps him navigate the mind-boggling shopping mall after he broke his aunt’s plates (he thought you could wash them in the washing machine). While we are confident in some things, each of us is still growing (I hope!) and needs help in many ways.
We are, of course, right in the midst of the gift-giving season. Time and again, the Horace Mann community shows its generosity by donating both goods and talent. It is this example and ethic that encourages our children to be the kind of people we want them to be. As we enjoy the holidays, let’s watch not only for opportunities to give, but also to receive. Sometimes, the joy the other person feels when helping is the greatest gift of all!
With warm regards,
Dr. Merritt F. Waters