NETHERLANDS: Hidden Treasures Behind The Covers Of Books

NETHERLANDS: Hidden Treasures Behind The Covers Of Books

libraryI used to visit the library every chance I had. It was my favorite place in the world. I loved its quiet atmosphere, the air thick and warm with stories, knowledge, wisdom, all ready to be discovered in hundreds of books.

And oh, the smell. I loved walking through those endless-looking shelves filled with books waiting to be read. I was a fast reader, and devoured books as if I was a hungry predator. I was always looking for a new book to read.

The selection of books was a meticulous process. I’d browse through the youth section of the library, searching for the perfect choice. I would take a book out and put it back, carefully study book covers and read the information on the back. I was very picky about the cover. The cover had to be pretty. If I wasn’t feeling it, I wasn’t reading it. If I didn’t like the cover, I wouldn’t even flip the book over to read the back. I was never going to read an ugly book.

The downside to being a fast reader and a picky book picker was that after a few months there were no more books to read.

No books with pretty book covers that is. Hesitantly I started perusing the youth section again, this time going for second best. I read Roald Dahl’s The Giant Peach, the one Roald Dahl book I had neglected to read because I didn’t like the cover.

I vividly remember how much fun I had reading that book. After that, I discovered one surprising book after another. They all revealed content that I never would have guessed from looking at the cover alone.

One day I read The Blooming Mimosa Tree by Gerda van Cleemput. For months I had kept putting the book back on the shelf because of its hideous cover. When I finally read it, it blew me away. The book told the life story of Helen Keller. I was intrigued and found my first real hero. I cried with her disappointments, cheered with her victories. When I had to walk down the stairs I closed my eyes and tried to find my way in the dark. I sat on my bed trying to imagine the sweet smell of mimosa flowers.

The book left a huge impression on me. It taught me the meaning of the word “perseverance”.

Yes, I learned a valuable lesson at that young age. I am wired to react to visuals, and I’m naturally drawn to pretty things. I guess we all are to some extent. We let our eyes guide us and motivate who or what to choose and how to judge. And by doing so we miss out on inspiring people, fabulous places and great experiences.

So say hello to that other mother who is not your kind of person. Give your best smile to that teenage girl covered in face piercings. Offer coffee to the eccentric old man across the street or offer to help that foreign family with their different manners and clothing. You may find a hidden treasure on the inside.

These days I’m still a little flaky when it comes to picking out books, and I’m still oversensitive to pretty book covers. When choosing a book I touch it, smell it, read the back, open up the book and read a few lines.

But I never ever judge a book by it’s cover. Because beauty isn’t always visible from the outside.

Are you tempted to judge people (or books) by the way they look? Tell me about the hidden treasures you have discovered when you ignored whatever it was that your eyes tried to tell you.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Mirjam of the Netherlands. Photo credit: Entressen kirjasto. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.



Mirjam was born in warm, sunny Surinam, but raised in the cold, rainy Netherlands. She´s the mom of three rambunctious beauties and has been married for over two decades to the love of her life. Every day she´s challenged by combining the best and worst of two cultures at home. She used to be an elementary school teacher but is now a stay at home Mom. In her free time she loves to pick up her photo camera. Mirjam has had a life long battle with depression and is not afraid to talk about it. She enjoys being a blogger, an amateur photographer, and loves being creative in many ways. But most of all she loves live and laughter, even though sometimes she is the joke herself. You can find Mirjam (sporadically) at her blog Apples and Roses where she blogs about her battle with depression and finding beauty in the simplest of things. You can also find Mirjam on Twitter and Instagram.

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SINGAPORE: Giving Our Children Roots and Wings

SINGAPORE: Giving Our Children Roots and Wings

As parents, we desire to raise successful kids. But often the measurement of success can be so vastly different depending on our backgrounds, experiences and expectations. In Singapore, academic success is one of the top measures.  Parents will sign up their kids for every enrichment and tuition centre in a heart beat, if it promises to improve their child’s grade.

For some, it could be developing their kids’ full potential in the area of music, art, or sports, and sending them to take every class to discover their talents from a young age. For others, it might be simply equipping their kids with the life skills to get them through whatever life throws at them, the kind of smart I prefer, “street smarts.”

Over the years, Singapore’s education system is slowly steering it’s direction from just developing book smart students to being more holistic, realising that there is more than one way to recognise our kids’ abilities.

I’m really glad about these changes as my daughter will enter formal education next year, and to be honest I wasn’t an ace student. Many times I felt that I was judged by how well I scored on my exams and if I disappointed my parents and myself when I didn’t achieve fantastic results. But over the years, I discovered that I have other talents and gifts that are just not related to how book smart I am.

Though I think my daughter’s pretty smart (okay, I’m a biased mom ), I know these changes to the education system gives me greater assurance that she will thrive when she starts school. But as a parent, I also have an responsibility in shaping who she is and my role is to give her roots and wings.

Roots and Wings

Just like a tree, in order for it to reach it’s fullest potential and stand strong to withstand the different elements, its’ roots must go deep and be firmly planted. These are the qualities I wish most for and I try to instill in her:

1. To be rooted in her identity
I want my daughter to be deeply rooted in the knowledge of her own identity. I want her to love herself for who she is and not strive to be someone else. I want her to recognize that she’s uniquely her, complete with her vivacious and vibrant personality, her sense of humour, and heart of gold.

2. To be rooted in character and values

Peer pressure will be a very real issue in school and that’s when our kids’ character and values are put to the test. As a parent, we have to ingrain values of honesty, compassion, integrity, kindness, responsibility, perseverance, and the list goes on. The best way to teach these to our kids? To model them ourselves.

3. To soar on wings of exploration
Besides having deep roots, I hope that my girl will develop wings to seek out the world. To be filled with curiosity and awe with a hunger to know more. I want to be the parent that says, ” That’s an interesting question, let’s find the answer.” and never to stop her from asking questions.

4. To have wings of independence

Our kids will grow up no matter how much we wish for them to remain cute and small. And the key is to ensure that they are equipped with life skills to see them through their days. As a young toddler, I’ve roped my girl to help around the house from picking up after herself, clearing her plate when she’s finished her meals, or loading the laundry.

As she gets older, she knows she has to be responsible for her belongings and pack her own bags. We’ve taught her what to do if she ever gets lost, and now she’s learning how to count money, an essential skill needed at the school canteen soon.

I also intend to teach how to manage her time wisely, budget and save,  and maybe even cook. We can start from frying an egg!

As parents, it won’t be easy for us to let go of our kids when they eventually grow up, have their own ideas, friends and all. But when that day comes, we’ll be glad that our children are ready to soar high with their wings, knowing we’ve provided them with the skills to navigate the skies!

How do you help your child(ren) develop roots of responsibility and wings of independence?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by contributor, Susan Koh from A Juggling Mom in Singapore. 

Susan Koh

Susan is from Singapore. As a full-time working mom, she's still learning to perfect the art of juggling between career and family while leading a happy and fulfilled life. She can't get by a day without coffee and swears she's no bimbo even though she likes pink and Hello Kitty. She's loves to travel and blogs passionately about parenting, marriage and relationship and leading a healthy life at A Juggling Mom.

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