Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

At the moment my two favorite comedians, and also the main faces of my Facebook newsfeed, are Trevor Noah and Shayne Smith. Shayne Smith tells jokes that have me rolling on the floor laughing because I can either relate, or because they’re just totally absurd. But Trevor Noah, even when he makes a joke, he makes me think. And I love that. His life experiences are so vastly different from anything I could ever imagine, and everyone will have different opinions on this, but to me, his perspective usually feels so…just all-encompassing and well-thought. I feel like he is able to give credit to and kindly acknowledge multiple view points on each issue while giving his own such that I have to be careful to not just accept everything he says as true. I took this picture below from off his daily show website (it had a little “download” button right on it, so hopefully that’s okay! *fingers crossed*

So, when I saw that he had written a book about his childhood, I HAD TO get it from the library and finished reading it in just a few days.

PC: Gavin Bond

Trevor Noah was born in Johannesburg, South Africa (the first image in this post shows the Johannesburg skyline), and “Born A Crime” is the story of how he maneuvered apartheid as a total outcast of the system – not really black, not really white, and not comfortable pretending to be like the other “colored” people that looked like him. Not only that, but in “a woman’s world” where he had no good male role models shares the things he learned from the ladies in his life, and the religion that filled their life.

I can’t say enough good things about this book, the sense of humor amid some deep and disturbing circumstances, the way he thinks about apartheid and people in general, and all the little lessons he squeezes in throughout the book. The book manages to lace abuse, tragedy, humor, love, faith and all the complicated overlap of those things together.

He describes himself as a naughty child, and has the stories to prove it, but I especially appreciated a moment in the book when he took a step back to defend children who’s parents struggle to discipline them, try as they might. He explains that family considered him destructive as a child, but he never intentionally destroyed anything. He just was trying to figure out how things worked. And often broke things in the process. Like in a very minor incident when his mom became upset at him for drawing on the walls, he felt terrible and vowed to never disappoint his mom by doing this thing again. But how would he remember not to do it?? Oh! He could write a note to himself on the wall, of course! And there he was, right back at the wall with a crayon. I found this so insightful into my own son’s little brain, and think that every reader will find themselves at some point in this book caught between realizations of your own misled thoughts/reactions to people, and simultaneously laughing at the presentation of his many schemes and predicaments.

I definitely recommend this book, especially to people who struggle with thoughts of racism, of feelings of being outcasts, who search for miracles, and to those who just love a good read.

What Do Different Cultures Say About The Tree of Life?

Tu Bishvat, also called Tu B’Shevat and The New Year of the Trees, is coming up on February 9, 2020! And I wish I had a whole tree unit done already, but for now I have this super fun freebie that I think is equally perfect for this holiday. You see, this Jewish tradition involves planting trees. So, what better time than now to learn about how they grow and what they symbolize to different people!

The tree of life story seems like a tale as old as time, reaching across countless cultures, which makes it a great tool for comparing cultures. Plus, it’s chock full of symbolism and often comes with stories of great adventure and struggle to reach it, much like the Holy Grail. And if you know me, you might know I love these two things a lot – ancient symbols, and stories that apply them. My family spent a lot of time this month enjoying all these different tales we could find and created this freebie for you!

I hate to string you out and say that you’ll have to wait for my tree unit to finish before I can pull my thoughts together on how each culture views the tree of life differently, but I can say that the thing that stays the same is that the tree of life is always viewed as a type of paradise and rest. And that’s what I tried to capture most in my coloring page.

The coloring page is full of different symbols that I thought represented some of my favorite parts of each story we read in some way or another. Some of those symbols include:

  • 7 branches. In Hebrew, 7 represents something being perfect or whole.
  • 10 fruit. Multiple accounts talk about the fruit being “most desirable” and compare the fruit to blessings. In Hebrew, 10 can just mean a lot, or even numberless. Like numberless blessings coming from the tree.
  • The tree of life in many accounts is near a body of water, but in some interpretations, the flow of water seems to come from the tree itself.
  • The tree is associated with a higher power.
  • The Baobab tree is considered the tree of life in Africa, and I read that elephants are one of its only natural predators. The way elephants can sense the water in the trees is amazing and, I thought, symbolic.
  • The flowers drawn on the trunk are structured like the Kabbalah representation of the tree of life.

I also included a very brief summary of each of the traditions that we read from. Our favorite story though, was The Legend of the First Baobab Tree. So I made it into an easy, printable coloring book for you to enjoy with your littles!

Enjoy this look into the book and then subscribe below to get your own copy!

Follow along on social media this week to learn more about these with fun story-tellings and videos!

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