How Reading About Other Lands is the Beginning of Exploration!

I still remember the days, when as a five year old little girl, my dearly beloved grandmother used to sit me on her lap and read me stories like “Little Red Riding Hood,” “La Ratoncita Presumida” (The Vain Little Mouse), and my favorite…the story of King Solomon and the two mothers.

I felt as if I was being transported to the stories themselves. While she read, I was not in Quito, Ecuador; rather, I was in the forest with the big bad wolf, or in the small village with the animals, or in the presence of a mighty and wise king.

It is a mystery how our imagination allows us to be transported to faraway lands…whether these lands are real or not, it does not matter. What matters is that we are no longer just limited to our surroundings. Reading allows us to meet and experience a tsunami of ideas and characters that come as whispers and gentle kisses. A mystery indeed…Reading allows us to go where we have not gone before!  It allows for the awakening of the explorer inside each of us. And make no mistake, each of us is very moved to explore. But, we don’t want to explore what we know. We want to explore the unknown and the foreign.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.- I Can Read with My Eyes Shut

Dr. Seuss, Tweet This

Unfortunately, the process of “growing up” extinguishes our thrill for exploration. We become accustomed to the familiar because it gives us security. We no longer explore “other lands.” This was true for me until I started homeschooling. With the education of my children came the rebirthing of my own exploration into distant “lands.” I re-discovered a natural process of learning which used books as a way to help me explore ideas, people and cultures. I jumped into an ocean of knowledge ready to be my own version of Columbus, Magellan, or Vasco de Gama!

I read books about people who were different in language, skin color, and with very different cultures. The stories engulfed me and helped me to understand others…

I still remember the story of Esther Ahn Kim in the book If I Perish. Her biography helped me understand life in traditional Korea, along with customs and religion of the land. At the same time, I remember crying over the pages of A Chance to Die, while Amy Carmichael rescued girls from a terrifying caste system which prostituted them at a young age.

On a lighter note, I also remember laughing so hard I spit on all my kids (true story), while trying to pronounce the Pledge of Allegiance, as interpreted by Shirley Temple Wong in the book In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. Set in the 1950s, this elementary level read aloud is the story of a young girl and her family who migrate to the United States after the father moves to New York due to his work. In this book, we encounter the innocence and curiosity of a young girl who experiences the “Big Apple” (New York) and all it’s technology for the first time. When she leaves rural China, her family baptizes her with American names (Shirley Temple Wong). The book portrays the gradual adaptation of an immigrant child who moves to a new country and culture.

With the education of my children came the rebirthing
of my own exploration into distant “lands."

Shirley Solis, Tweet This


And…let me not forget the beauty of the Swiss Alps as described in Heidi, or the beautiful Irish culture as told in The Irish Twins, along with the understanding of Spanish bullfighting in Shadow of a Bull and a visual portrayal of personal property while perusing through Material World. All these books and many more have made me a lover of people and their cultures. They have made our family explorers beyond our backyard.

Each book encounter with a foreign land or foreign people turned into a new love and pursuit for additional learning of how people live. I could understand the many differences in culture, while identifying the seamless needs of the human heart for God, love, acceptance, and hope.

The best part of all was not the learning I did for myself, but realizing that my own exploration inspired six others (my children) to explore on their own. They soon became lovers of people of all colors and cultures. They began to appreciate music of all kinds and foods of all flavors… All because I explored!

I want to invite you today to begin your own exploration into other lands- foreign lands with different people and cultures! Journey into what is out there for you to learn and bring your family along for the trip…

Shirley Solis is a Family Catalyst and author of the #1 Amazon best-selling cookbook, Not Just Tacos. Journey into the world of authentic Latin American cuisine and experience the rich flavors and culture of Hispanic people. Grab your free ebook copy here.

This post was originally published in Homeschooling Today. it is your turn to put a comment below!