Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. This year, you’re getting a book. Deal.

Books.  We’ve established I love them.  So, in the spirit of sharing the love, fiscal responsibility, and making the season more meaningful, I determined that this year, I would gift those I love with BOOKS.  (They’re all thrilled)  And not just books, but books that changed my life accompanied by letters explaining HOW and WHY these works impacted me.

I chose a few non-fiction works, and chose THREE fiction works.  Now, I have read a lotta books.  As in, started reading at about age three, didn’t have a traditional full time job until age 39, kind of lotta books.  So narrowing down my choices to three, says something about these works of literature.

My three?

My Book House  (yes, this is a complete set, and yes, it must be the rainbow edition)

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry

To Kill a Mockingbird

We can discuss the rainbow edition at another date, suffice it to say that I lived, breathed, and repeatedly devoured this set during my childhood.  And beyond.  At my request, Hank gifted me our family set for Christmas a few years ago.  BEST.  GIFT.  EVER.

As for the other two titles, their subject and theme are somewhat similar.  AND, they are both often banned due to the use of the word “nigger” in the text.  I have such strong opinions about banning books, again, that’s another post.  or two.  The books also both have fierce female protagonists, YOUNG female protagonists, with strong yet vulnerable voices.  Both set in the south, and both deal with racial inequity and injustice.  And both works celebrate language and expression in a manner that fills the soul and stretches the mind.

The above similarities are all well and good.  But WHY do these particular works move me?  WHY are these the books I fight to share with my students?  Why are these the books I gift my children?  Why are these the books that shape me?

WHY?  Ask it three times!  ALWAYS ASK WHY!!

These books piss me off.  On a visceral and nearly cellular level, these books, PISS ME THE HELL OFF.

I believe it has been established, that I’m scared of everything.  Apparently, there is something bigger and more powerful than my fear, and that is ANGER.  And thankfully, my anger is typically motivated by LOVE.

I hate a bully.  Always have, always will.

When I was in first grade, a much bigger and obviously older,  8th grade girl started picking on my older brother, Ricky, and Alyse, the girl who helped us walk home from Harvey Scott Elementary School.  Ricky has been completely handicapped since about 6 months of age, and is small and defenseless.  I remember being nearly BLINDED with rage when this girl picked on Rick and Alyse.  Our encounter ended with this 8th grade girl popping me in the face and bloodying my lip.  (my mother did march me up the street to her house, her mother was mortified, and I got an owl candle, so it pretty much ended well.)


Ricky!  Those headphones are a hot mess, but he’s happy!

These books throw open the windows and shine a light on the dirty, ugly, and brutal practice of racial bullying.  And that is a necessary thing.  If we ever hope to change, we have to be able to clearly see.

These books also shine a light upon those who choose love.  Bottom line.  Love.  Love enough to risk discomfort, pain, and even death to evoke change.

Why does this matter?  Will this make you a size 2?


All about the wheel.  Balance.  The obvious piece of the pie here is Civic Engagement.  But what of spirit/reflection?  What of Work?  What of Family/Friends?  Are you defending those who cannot defend themselves?  Are you defending those who are absent?  Am I?

These are uncomfortable and HARD questions.  They require me to look at the three fingers pointing back at me.  (and the God thumb).  But these questions are NECESSARY for a fully functional and balanced life and wheel.

Know what happens when you stick your head in the sand?  You get shot in the ass.

—Hank (my dad)

Knowledge.  Action.  Change.

Light and Love,

Big Laura



2 thoughts on “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. This year, you’re getting a book. Deal.

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