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Life Arts    H4'ed 9/23/15

Children's Books, Inspiration, Biographies of Faith: Example of Mother Teresa: Missionary of Charity

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Mother Teresa and our youth. .Be happy in the moment, that's enough, each moment is all we need, not more.. ~Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa and our youth. .Be happy in the moment, that's enough, each moment is all we need, not more.. ~Mother Teresa
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Wellman, Sam (1997) , Ulrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing, pages 203.

Faith "is confidence or trust in a person or thing or a belief not based on proof. It may also refer to a particular system of religious belief."

Failure is nothing but the kiss of Jesus.

As a lifelong educator, I need sometimes to take time to update myself on children's literature, especially when I myself feel the need to quickly fill my own "Bildungsluecke"[1]--as Germans would say.

"Bildungsluecke" in German means literally "a hole in ones education" and semantically means a "gap in one's education or learning years". It usually refers to an important or neglected gap in training or knowledge that yet deserves to be filled in. We lifelong learners desire to fill those holes in occasionally (or we feel we are simply wasting away our time on this planet, i.e. not growing and maturing in a well-rounded way).

As a teacher, taking time to read children's' books or literature can fulfill a variety of pedagogical needs. For example, before I picked up a children's book on Mother Teresa recently I had had only a vague understanding of who she was. (I knew Mother Teresa had won a Nobel Prize the year before I graduated from high school and that she was being considered for sainthood by the catholic church. I also know she had had her critiques in India and around the world, too.) I felt finally that it was about time for me as both an educator and historian to sit down and learn more background on who this famous woman of the 20th Century was.

Another reason that at times I seek out children' literature for introductory readings of mine on a new topic is simply to become more relevant in classrooms, i.e. I need to keep up with what youth are reading or are familiar with. I feel this way because much of the Christian world that I grew up in are catholic and I don't know enough about their knowledge and faith at times. So, when I am teaching about and comparing or contrasting cultures and histories across the globe, I need to know some basic facts about the heroes of various populations referred to in common popular media.

On the other hand, as a parent, I also feel impelled to be on the look out for both old and newer reading material which I would in turn like to recommend that my own daughter to read some day. This particular biography

Mother Teresa: Missionary of Charity

had been read by a colleague of mine and her son in school, so the book's content appeared to be relevant and interesting to that family. I recalled that as a child my public school library had not dealt with the topic of "heroes of faith" much, so I determined to explore the idea a bit more.

Finally, I should add that as an intellectual (of sorts), by reading children's history of biography, I can refresh myself as to how a life-story can be told in a traditional and straight-forward time order manner manner----yet still be fairly interesting if not unpredictable. (This contrasts for example with allegorical writing or event the heavy usage of squashing the sense of time and space by continuously employing flashbacks with an attempt to bring great surprise.)

A straight-forward or longitudinal tale--usually employed in children's literature--is pedagogically important for young readers. Other more "advanced" narrative-styles which are common now and they often seek purposefully to try to confuse (or mystify) readers with many flashbacks (including smoke, mirrors, and surprises) or by employing futuristic or mystical images. These days such forms of narration have become common in children's cartoons, TV series, dramas, and feature films. I think such common usages in cinema would confuse young readers quite a bit. in stating this critique, I am now only concerned with biographies, which at least once ought-to-be-told or revealed in a historically straight-forward manner, so as not to confuse the young acquiring mind in their earnest initial attempt to gain understanding of a real human being.


As a small child in elementary school I was fascinated by biographies. For example, I read Meet John F. Kennedyby Nancy Bean White when I first went off to school. I loved it so much I soon read of other American heroes in the same series, like Meet MLK, Meet JFK, Meet LBJ, Meet Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Meet Mahatma Gandhi, and Meet Teddy Roosevelt.

Later, baseball and sports-fever hit me and I read countless lengthier biographies on Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Gordie Howe, Wilt Chamberlain, and Roberto Clemente. Over time, these biographies informed me considerably about the world I was growing up in--and that world was not always pretty but it was exciting. Particularly, in the Roberto Clemente and Martin Luther King Jr biographies we readers were constantly observing the criticism that the heroes faced from the public--and often these children's authors did not shy away from the controversy or the dark side of American culture.

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)

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