INSPIRATIONAL READING FOR CHILDREN!

Goan girl Lin Thomas from Virginia, USA… says children literature is coming up in a big way abroad to get children to read books in hand

BY TARA NARAYAN

SO wrapped up one is with WhatsApp and Facebook that I’m sacrificing actual reading of books in the tried and tested old-fashioned way in which I grew up! But you know what, my dears? Reading books is coming back slowly and steadily and I dare say it’s all beginning with the younger generation and nowadays even the genre of inspirational writing is growing…also for children. Perhaps they need it more than we do — suicide statistics being shockingly high amongst kids if you please.
At least that’s what Lin Thomas tells me. I met her over the weekend by fluke while she was visiting Goa and found her a refreshing, down-too-earth, author, blogger and a book enthusiast living out in Virginia. They’re two sisters who married IT professionals out in the US of A and yes, she added, she loves it out there although the cold can be horrible and she misses Goa’s warmth in every way. She’s also an IT person working for Perspecta in Virginia (a giant with a staff strength of some 14,000).
Lin got married in 2003 and soon went out to the USA soon after, “Virginia is a very beautiful state with the four seasons…” This doesn’t mean she’s forgotten Goa, her love for her home state is biographically palpable in her first book titled Every Sparrow Was Made to Fly’ (published by Yay Learner LLC, printed in the USA) which she would like to see the light of day in Goa and India too. Although I learn that the book is priced $9.99 that is 728 if you order it on Amazon!
Is anybody going to buy a paper book for that much in India? She exclaimed she’s hoping institutional libraries and educational groups would buy it for children to read. That’s how it is in the print world nowadays and she’s not minting a fortune on writing, okay. Okay! Lin has previously contributed to the iconic inspirational Chicken Soup for the Pre-Teen Soul 2 of the NY times best-selling series (which is published in over 32 languages and 100 countries). There is a lot of Chicken Soup for the adult soul too, she says, “And I personally think chicken soup is great if you’re down with a cold!”
She’s got three children, two daughters 12 and 9 years and a two-year-old son. Say her kids inspire her to write for the younger generation, one thing Lin observes is that there is so much intolerance coming up, “It’s everywhere and I hope it gets resolved.” It’s important to inculcate tolerance in children and she hopes to do that in her writing.
Out in the USA an interest in books is coming back with both parents and teachers conscious of the need to return to reading, lots of programs get children to read books in hand and “I was overjoyed when my 9-year-old Savia read ‘Every Sparrow Was Made to Fly’ and said she enjoyed reading it, that too in one straight reading, staying up till 11 pm in the night! Childrens’ feedback is most valuable!” Her children are her strongest advocates. Children are like sparrows and just need to be taught to fly! Plus, I gather she lives across the street from a library and visits it every day after school.
Lin Thomas is in her 30s and wanted to know if this is important for me to know! I laughed, not at all, so what’s her star sign? She smiled, she’s a Libran.
What’s her book about? I’ve just about three-quarters read it and find it heartwarming, very easygoing style, all about the magical realism of conjuring up a sparkling sparrow by rubbing an amulet and it comes and goes like a genie to boost the confidence of 12-year-old Sammy…who is suffering from a sort of cultural shock immigrating to America from India. I would say it’s about teaching children to think with their heart too along with their mind. The author says her book is a novel for children and about dreams, challenges, friendship and inspiration to live and be happy no matter what…or something like that!
Well, cheers to all that. As we say goodbye Lin tells me it’s never too late to take to blogging and urges me to become a blogger too. It seems there is excitement out there in the world of bloggers, they’re all a young lot. I’m thinking about it, my dears. No reason why I shouldn’t become a blogger too with all the stories I have to write, my dears! I always say it’s the body which ages, the mind need not. I pray my mind never feels or grows old!
On that note I wish Lin Thomas (she is the daughter of my friends Lily and KPM Rajan in Goa) all the best in her writing career for children and hope to catch up with her in Virginia one of these days to see the Rocky Mountains of John Denver fame (who wrote the song Country Roads? John Denver!).
It’s avjo, poiteverem, selamat datang, au revoir, arrivedecci and vachun yetta here for now.

— Mme Butterfly

Excerpted from ‘Every Sparrow Was Made to Fly’ by Lin Thomas…
My Little Friend
The next morning, I find it really hard to wake up. I am late and almost miss the bus!
Did I dream about the sparrow? Was she real?
I keep thinking about my magical friend. That night, I put both my hands again on the amulet and nothing happens. Well, she did say she would come only when I really needed her. I sleep off.
It’s the next day and I have a math test. I didn’t study much, but I hope I do well. The test concludes and ten minutes later we get our scores.
I got 3 out of 20! My eyes tear up and I quickly rub my eyes, before tears trickles down my cheek. I can’t let anyone in class see me cry!
How do I tell Mamma about my test score? I get off the bus and walk quietly with my head down. I see Ryan, the boy from my math class, but I ignore him.
That night, I bury my face in my hands and say a little prayer. I lie down on my bed and wonder what to do. Now that I think of it, I may have dreamt of the sparkling sparrow. I don’t think she is real. I am too different than everyone else. I don’t like my life.
I hold on to my amulet and close my eyes.
And there she was. A flash of light and my sparkling friend comes to visit me again.
`Hello Sammy, how can I help you today?”
“You are real! I thought I saw you in a dream. Where have you been? I have been waiting for you!”
“I only come when you really need me,” she replies.
“You promised you would help me…with magic? The best thing would be if you could move us back to India.”
“Sammy, I’m sorry. You know I can’t change things like that. But, I can solve one problem of yours today.””
“Okay…nobody talks to me at school. Rather I don’t talk to anyone.”
The sparrow says, “I will cast a spell on you to make a new friend tomorrow. You just need to make a genuine effort to be nice to people.”
“But, I’m nervous. What if they don’t like me? What if they think I am weird?” I reply.
“You have to believe good things will happen, Sammy. You have to be ready to take risks. My magic spell will help you.”

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