I really can’t say I read a lot of books as a child. I owned only three or four, but I read and reread the books I owned and cherished the illustrations page by page. The block prints in the book, Children of Many Lands, were vivid and sunny, and bold.
Through these delightful works of art, I was drawn to the subjects of the short stories in the book. I wondered what it would be like to play near the water in the Netherlands with Wilhelmina and wondered at the food on her table. Was it like mine or did she eat bread and cheese like Heidi of the Alps?
When I read about the boy who slept on the floor in Japan and had walls made of paper, I was so intrigued! His life was so different than mine. Then there was Chela of Thailand who manned a boat on his own, skidding past the Buddhist temples of Bangkok. He cut down trees with the help of an elephant, while I played house under the weeping willow in the front yard of my friend Jean.
Sweetest of all was Kari of Norway, with her colorful, traditional clothing and downhill skis. A budding skier myself, I enjoyed reading about life on the fjords and was introduced to the northern lights–so much so that I kept an eye on the north for a glimpse of them.
My world was Upper Michigan, land of snow and hockey, figure skating, short summers and more snow. But Children of Many Lands opened up the faraway world with the hope I would travel someday to hot and sunny places. Though the children of my favorite book were different from me in clothing and language, we had many things in common: birthdays, trips to the park, parents and siblings and chores.
Thanks to this book, my heart and mind opened toward other cultures and fed me for a lifetime as I cherish the unique expression of the world’s people and seek to protect it.
Children of Many Lands, by Dana Bruce and Elizabeth F. McCrady, The Platt & Munk Co.,Inc., New York, 1960.
Read More of Lori’s journey.