When Children set the Example

Editor’s Note: Traveling back across country today. Today’s guest post is from the lovely Renea Winchester, author of one of my favs — In the Garden with Billy.


By Renea Winchester

A few weeks ago, my daughter and I visited The Book Exchange in Marietta, Georgia for an event where Karen Spears Zacharias was speaking about her latest release, A Silence of Mockingbirds. In public, mydaughter prefers a back-row seat one that draws no attention to her despite the sky-high leopard print shoesshe selected for the outing.
Around adults, she is on her best behavior, often feigning attention while examining her nails or twirling her hair. During this teenage-stage, parents aren’t sure if their children are paying attention as was my thought that evening. Afterward, she and I posed for pictures and then returned home without discussing the content of Mockingbirds.

It is difficult to pair words with the emotions I felt after reading this book. It is a call to action; an eye-opening account that personalizes a tragedy we (unfortunately) see on the news daily. Ultimately, Mockingbirdsis a love story for children throughout the United States woven inside a challenge to readers. Book clubs should read, discuss then set the world afire by demanding changes in a broken child protective services system.
After seeing Karen, many things remained in my heart. One was her statement: “I am only one person and I need your help.”
This week, when I reached for my copy of Mockingbirds, it was missing. Angered that I had misplaced this important book, which I intended to share with my pastor, I searched the office, the library, the stack of books beside my bed…nothing. Misplacing trivial things such as the grocery list and car keys are a common occurrence. So common that no one volunteers to help. Frantic, I searched again, eventually catching a glimpse of the book cover beneath my daughter’s bed.
Opting to let my daughter finish reading the book, I learned that she had chosen to read it for a class project.Her assignment: choose a court case, write a three-paragraph summary, then discuss whether you think theverdict was accurate. Today, with a two page report and a copy of Mockingbirds tucked in her backpack, my daughter, who didn’t say a single word as Karen spoke about Karly, will tell her social studies class that Karly mattered. For that, I am extremely proud. I am proud, not because she listened politely without texting while Karen
spoke, or because she (at age 15) read the book. I am proud because she acted.
She acted because Karen needed her help. She acted because Karly mattered. Many times we excuse ourapathy because we are “but one voice.” We ask, “What can I do? I am only one person? Today, my daughter’slone voice told a classroom of thirty students and two teachers.
One of the teachers addedMockingbirds to the summer reading list. That, dear ones, is the power of one. One person picks up the phone and reports bruises and missing hair. One person places a copy of Mockingbirds in the hands of their pastor. One person calls the Mayor of their town and says, “I’ve got a book you need to read.” Another calls their representative todiscuss Karly’s law. Each one, seemingly weak individual when linked together will change a broken system. Perhaps the youth and their shouts of injustice will help save the lives of innocent children
Renea Winchester is the proud momma of a teenager and the author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons aboutLife, Love & Tomatoes, and Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. She iscurrently working on In the Kitchen with Billy. Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com

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  • John in PDX

    Young adults are interested in these things. I encourage them to ask the library for a copy.