Saturday, April 20, 2013

My Grandma Sent Us Stamps

Reading List Beginnings

What do a recently widowed Senegalese teacher and a U.S. postal worker have in common? They encourage literacy, gracious giving and critical thinking!

The post office in my grandma's town, pop. < 100, cut its hours again. So she sent my parents stamps. Her gesture was called 'quaint' and 'cute', but her strength goes beyond ill-begotten adjectives. She's got ballsy support for a government-run agency in a time of BIG GOVERNMENT FEAR (can we put a muzzle on Rupert Murdoch's media empire already?). 

Go ahead. Write a letter. Read a book. 

The Jolly Postman or Other People's Letters by Janet & Allan Ahlberg

Get your hands on this book; try to ignore the 'man' in postman and its children's book genre. Filled with envelopes containing post for beloved storybook characters, it also speaks to the idea of otherness. The idiomatic Wicked Witch receives a catalog of enchanting stock like Little Boy Pie Mix ("For those unexpected visitors when the cupboard is bare"), Halloween boots (looking mysteriously like the boots I wore in elementary school and right now), and a Cup and Sorcerer tea service. The bottom of the green-tinged insert says, "For further details call 1-800-555-UGLY. NO BAD SPELLS PLEASE." To borrow a phrase from George W. Bush, the witch isn't ugly...Just don't mis-underestimate her.

So Long a Letter by Mariama

Fiction speaks to truth as Ramtoulaye writes letters to her friend while she goes through the grieving process. The trials and delights of family and the deep connection of a childhood-bourn friendship surpasses geopolitical boundaries and illuminates preconceived character judgments. Suitors come a-callin' and the plot develops with real life tragedies, but the book is also a balm for lost love and those who think letter writing is a practice from the past. Doesn't a FB post, text msg or tweet convey the same sentiment? Nope. 

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