We’re thrilled to have Jamie Martin on the Minno Life blog today! Martin, who blogs at the popular simplehomeschool.net, recently released Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time, a reading guide for families. Give Your Child the World was ranked #1 on the Amazon category for Christian Family, and we at Minno absolutely love the book!
Except for expensive travel, is there a better way to introduce your kids to the wonder of God’s world than through literature? Martin writes, “Creating a family culture of books means our kids have the chance to live a thousand lives before leaving our home. Isn’t that incredible? They can travel the world (and beyond), all the while safe within our four walls.”
JT: Why did you want to write Give Your Child the World?
JM: This book developed out of our own needs and experience as a family. Back in the day when I was a young mom, we had a four-, three-, and two-year-old under our roof. Not only that, but each one came to us from a separate continent:
- my biological son, Jonathan, born in Texas;
- my son Elijah, adopted as an infant from Liberia, West Africa; and
- my daughter Trishna, who joined our family at the age of four from India.
Add my British husband Steve and me (born and raised in North Carolina) to the picture and that makes five people from four countries! As the survival mode season of parenting slowly faded and the kids became a little older, I started to feel an urgency to incorporate the cultures of the world into our home, since God had literally knit our family together from the ends of the earth.
And I found a cheap and mostly stress-free way to do it: books.
As time went by we stumbled upon several treasured titles, and used our imaginations to set foot in foreign lands, even though our wallets couldn’t afford the trip. I realized that I could use the research I had done and all we’d learned to create a guide for others who’d like to read their way around the world, too, so that’s where the project began.
JT: Why are you passionate about bringing a global perspective into the home? Why is that valuable for parents?
JM: God filled this world with infinite variety, creativity, and interesting people who He loves. I want my kids to fall in love with God’s world so that one day they, in their own unique way, feel empowered to change and heal it. That’s why I’m passionate about giving our family a global perspective. Little children start out with a natural love for the world—they explore everything they can get their hands on, finding it all wondrous. Yet often that changes as they get older and become more consumed with themselves and their own problems.
Thankfully, we have at our fingertips a miracle vaccine, one that can boost our kids’ immunity to the world’s heaviness and fear. Story. Through it we can connect our kids with people and places on the other side of the globe, and as they fall in love with these stories I believe it can help them maintain their natural, God-given wonder for the world, too.
JT: The world can be a really scary place! I think a lot of parents want their kids to have as idyllic a perspective on the world as possible, but that’s not realistic. How do you balance the reality (the news, current events) of what is happening in the world with the stories you recommend and read to your kids? How do you help your kids navigate that tension?
JM: I think the age and developmental stage of each child determines what he is ready for. Exposing young kids to current headlines isn’t the most effective way to facilitate their love for the globe. Before the age of nine children occupy an inner realm where it’s difficult to completely distinguish between fantasy and reality. Surround them with the good things about our planet during this precious phase of their lives.
If your family is passionate about a specific cause or issue, don’t focus on its complexities or darkness when your children are young. Instead talk about the role your family plays and how it helps. This empowers kids and fills them with the belief that they can make a difference. Then, when your children become older tweens, you can filter in more current events as it seems right for you and yours. I share specific ideas about how to do so in Give Your Child the World.
JT: I loved the practical suggestions you had from home decor to ethnic foods. What are some of your family’s favorite ways to bring the world home?
JM: One of my favorite suggestions would be to make a prayer bowl! During or after a family meal one day, sit down with a piece of paper and talk about the issues, people, and parts of the world that touch your heart. Write down countries, cities, issues like orphan care or child trafficking, charities you support, relatives, missionaries you know, anything or anyone far or near.
Write each one on a separate line, and when you’re finished cut the strips apart, fold, and put them in a bowl on your dining table. Once a day (or whenever it works for you) have someone choose a slip of paper and pray as a family for whatever is on it. It’s a simple way to keep a global perspective in the midst of daily life.
JT: What tips do you have for families looking to start a practice of reading together?
JM: Don’t make it too complicated; just start where you are! God gave you your specific children for a reason. They have their unique likes, dislikes, and needs for a reason. All of that factors into their relationship with reading. When it comes to creating a culture of books in your home, don’t try to make your family look like anyone else’s. Just take one step toward making books a bigger part of your family life. If you aren’t sure what to read, use a trusted guide like my own book or Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt to make selecting a title easier.
Creating a family culture of books means our kids have the chance to live a thousand lives before leaving home. They can travel the world (and beyond!) all while safe within our four walls. They can feel the pain of a character’s flaws and learn from their mistakes, without having to experience the actual consequences. I don’t see reading as a way to escape reality, but as a way to prepare our kids for real life in a unique and beautiful way.
JT: In addition to traveling the world through books, do you take your kids traveling a lot? How do you make those experiences really meaningful?
JM: Having a British husband comes with certain perks, that’s for sure! There’s the accent, the tea, the extended family, and the need to travel regularly to visit them. The first time we took our whole family to England in 2012, my kids were nine, eight, and seven. We went again last year, and we’re saving up now to go back in 2018.
We’ve craned our necks upward looking at York Minster and Big Ben, floated down the Thames and under Tower Bridge, toured Beatrix Potter’s house in the Lake District, and kept our eyes peeled for Merry Men while exploring the real Sherwood Forest. Before a trip, we usually use books to prepare for what we might see and experience there. We take plenty of photos, of course, and also use travel journals to remember our experience.
It’s definitely true that traveling expands our horizons and takes us out of our comfort zones. As we discover new cultures, we bond with each other and get a bigger vision for what God might have for us some day. But it’s totally fine if you don’t have the hefty savings account needed to spend a year seeing the world first-hand. Just do it from your living room sofa instead, with your library card as your passport!
Using Give Your Child the World you can literally read your way around the world, all from the comfort of home. Your kids, and whole family, can fall deeper in love with books, God’s world, and each other page by page. Enjoy the adventure!
Jamie C. Martin lives a global life at home every day with four countries (England, India, Liberia, and the USA) represented under her roof. She’s blessed to be called Mommy by her biological son and her two internationally adopted children and loves sipping cups of tea with her British husband. She blogs at simplehomeschool.net, where she’s been writing since 2010 about mindful parenting and intentional education. Her newest book, Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time, invites families to read their way around the world while falling more deeply in love with it and each other.