12/27/08

A Trip Around the World for Parents Who Love Learning

The New Year is almost upon us and I thought it would be a good time to share some of my favorite books with parents who love to learn right along with their kids. I enjoy traveling a great deal but don't have the time or money at this point in my life to travel very often. Traveling to China to adopt our daughter was my first real trip outside of the United States besides trips to Canada and a day long visit to Mexico. Books have allowed me to go to all the places I have wanted to visit and someday I hope to visit more of these places in person and with my children. I also love learning about people's life experiences in different parts of the world. A number of the books I listed below are about truly inspirational people who have made our world a better place. If you like to travel, learn about other countries and cultures, or be inspired, then check out some of these great books!

The first stop on your trip around the world is Haiti. The book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World is one of the most inspiring books I have ever read. A review of the book by Jonathon Harr really sums up how I feel about the book. “The central character of this marvelous book is one of the most provocative, brilliant, funny, unsettling, endlessly energetic, irksome, and charming characters ever to spring to life on the page. He has embarked on an epic struggle that will take you from the halls of Harvard Medical School to a sun-scorched plateau in Haiti, from the slums of Peru to the cold gray prisons of Moscow. He wants to change the world. Certainly this luminous and powerful book will change the way you see it.”—Jonathan Harr, author of A Civil Action

The next book which I highly recommend is Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time. This book takes you to Pakistan and Afghanistan and will give you new insight about the Middle East. According to the book description, "Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools—especially for girls—that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson’s quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit."

The third book I recommend, River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, will take you on a memorable journey to China. According to the book description: "In the heart of China's Sichuan province, amid the terraced hills of the Yangtze River valley, lies the remote town of Fuling. Like many other small cities in this ever-evolving country, Fuling is heading down a new path of change and growth, which came into remarkably sharp focus when Peter Hessler arrived as a Peace Corps volunteer, marking the first time in more than half a century that the city had an American resident. Hessler taught English and American literature at the local college, but it was his students who taught him about the complex processes of understanding that take place when one is immersed in a radically different society. Poignant, thoughtful, funny, and enormously compelling, River Town is an unforgettable portrait of a city that is seeking to understand both what it was and what it someday will be."

A book that is a very interesting read and could have you on the road to good health is The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who Have Lived the Longest. This book will take you to Costa Rica, Italy, Japan, and Loma Linda, California. According to the book description: "With the right lifestyle, experts say, chances are that you may live up to a decade longer. What’s the prescription for success? National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner has traveled the globe to uncover the best strategies for longevity found in the Blue Zones: places in the world where higher percentages of people enjoy remarkably long, full lives. And in this dynamic book he discloses the recipe, blending this unique lifestyle formula with the latest scientific findings to inspire easy, lasting change that may add years to your life."

The End of the Spear is another great book which takes you on an amazing journey to Ecuador. This book and Mountains Beyond Mountains are two of my favorite books. According to the book description: "Steve Saint was five years old when his father, missionary pilot Nate Saint, was speared to death by a primitive Ecuadorian tribe. In adulthood, Steve, having left Ecuador for a successful business career in the United States, never imagined making the jungle his home again. But when that same tribe asks him to help them, Steve, his wife, and their teenage children move back to the jungle. There, Steve learns long-buried secrets about his father's murder, confronts difficult choices, and finds himself caught between two worlds. Soon to be a major motion picture (January 2006), End of the Spear brilliantly chronicles the continuing story that first captured the world's attention in the bestselling book, Through Gates of Splendor."

There is No Me Without You takes place in Ethiopia where you will meet an inspirational but also very human woman who has devoted her life to helping orphaned children. According to the book description: "There Is No Me Without You is the story of Haregewoin Tefarra, a middle-aged Ethiopian woman of modest means whose home has become a refuge for hundreds of children orphaned by AIDS. It is a story as much about the power of the bond between children and parents as about the epidemic that every year leaves millions of children, mostly healthy themselves, without family. Originally a middle-class woman with a happy family life, Haregewoin fell into a deep depression after the death of her recently married daughter. But then a priest brought her two children, AIDS orphans, with nowhere to go. Unexpectedly, the children thrived, and Haregewoin found herself drawn back into daily life. As word got out, an endless stream of children began to arrive at her door, delivered by dying parents and other relatives who begged for her help, and, pushing against the limits of her home and bank account, she took more and more in. Today, Haregewoin runs a school, a daycare system, and a shelter for sick mothers. Without medication for her charges—some HIV-positive, some uninfected, and some infants trying to fight off the virus, but almost all of whom come to her terrified and malnourished—she forges on, caring for as many as she can handle. Increasingly, she also places them for adoption with families like that of journalist Melissa Fay Greene, who has two children adopted from Ethiopia. In Haregewoin Tefarra’s story, Greene gives us an astonishing portrait of a woman fighting a continent-wide epidemic."

The last book, I'm Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers, brings you back to the United States and follows the friendship between journalist Tim Madigan and cultural icon, Fred Rogers. The story of their friendship is truly uplifting and a book not to be missed.

Studies have shown that parents who read in front of their children are more likely to have children who are interested in reading. This is all the evidence I need to make sure I take the time to sit down with a good book as often as I can.

4 comments:

ms-teacher said...

This looks like a great list of books. I'm also done with my current pile of must-do reading, so now I have a new crop of books to add to my list!

Marianna said...

I would have to agree that Mountains Beyond Mountains is truly an inspirational book. I read it several years ago, but still count it as a favorite. Another book with international flavor that I found very enlightening is Leap of Faith: Memoirs of An Unexpected Life by Queen Noor of Jordan.


Marianna--an new reader

Amy said...

I have also read "Leap of Faith" and found it interesting and an enjoyable read. Thanks for the comment!

Our China Starfish said...

Thanks for this great post! I picked up a couple of these and am looking forward to starting my "trip"...I'm not sure yet if I'm heading to the Middle East or China tonight!