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3-for-1 Match for All Donations!
A generous supporter has offered to match every dollar we raise 3-to-1 through December 31st. We are trying to raise $150,000 in donations by the end of the year – with the match, that will give us $600,000, enough to buy 4 more petabytes of storage.
Help us keep the library free for millions of people by making a tax-deductible donation today.
I use the digital libraries, frequently. I will not even attempt to guess how many hundreds of audio books I have downloaded to listen to while gardening or working about the house. I could do without cable; television, altogether, to be perfectly honest. The sameness of TV programming numbs the mind. One would think that with the additional channel options of cable, the state of things would not be quite so dull. I find it dull, predictable and vapid. I’d rather listen to a classic work of literature or to some historical masterpiece. Instead of listening to opinions about an author, or about a particular time in history, I would rather go to the source. Archive.org not only makes that possible, but free and convenient.
It staggers the mind to consider the very existence of this massive collection of texts, audio and video that brings together the rich vastness of human thought from the ages. And all of it available at our fingertips—free! Consider, globally, anyone with access to the Internet has free access to all the materials to acquire a first-rate classical education.
We live at a time when public school curriculum is diminishing the importance of literature, history and music. Therefore, I sincerely hope the digital library may continue to grow, to bring even more free resources to those motivated to expand their minds.
We are making good progress with Our Christmas Store
The theme for 2012 is Follow The Bethlehem Star
You will find all the cards from past years in the store, along with a large assortment of inexpensive gifts. Please drop by for a visit. All of our designs are original, so you may be assured of finding something unique. We are very grateful for all our customers!
With the assistance of volunteers at the nursing home, my mother was able to complete a story she has long wanted to tell. This is the story of the summers she spent as teacher and companion to a multi-handicapped child named Nancy. I have made this little volume available in both print and Kindle. Learn more about this project at Ava.WordThunder.com.
She said that it has weighed on her heart for a long time to tell this story, in the hope that it will encourage parents and caregivers to begin working with children like Nancy at the earliest possible age.
The summers that my mother spent with Nancy occurred during the mid 1940s. Doctors had told the parents that the child would never develop mentally beyond the age of four. So the parents believed that teaching Nancy was pointless. When my mother first met the girl, Nancy was nearly ten. She had never been taught the basic things that children learn before entering school. Realizing that Nancy would never learn to read from books, my mother sought creative ways to help her understand her surroundings. In doing so, she discovered that Nancy was really quite gifted in certain areas. Once she understood the concept of directions, she could never get lost.
This is a very short book, a scant 52 pages.
My mother is now 86, and writing is no longer possible for her. The volunteers at the nursing home took what she had written a couple of years ago and helped flush this out with details that she provided. Another volunteer tracked down surviving family members, and in this way obtained the photos of Nancy included in the book. So while this is my mother’s story, it required a group effort, and generous volunteers, to complete.
I see something of a parallel in Nancy’s early life, where a variety of people gave of their time to help the child to understand her world, and with my mother’s efforts to tell the story, also requiring the assistance of those willing to give of their time. The greatest and most generous gift any of us can ever give is our time.
We tend to think of “teacher” as a specialized vocation requiring years of college training. Yet every single person that interacts with a child is teaching that child. Through these interactions they may be teaching the child to appreciate their world, and to become excited about learning. Through neglect or disinterest they may be teaching that the world is not particularly interesting. Therefore, from babyhood, the child’s impression about the world begins to be shaped. This is what my mother wished to say in My Summer’s With Nancy. She hopes to encourage parents to find creative ways to help their children to become excited about learning. This must begin in infancy when the child’s earliest understandings about their surroundings begin to be formed.
Unfortunately, many parents do not understand how to teach their children this desire to learn. This may happen when the parent was never taught these things as a young child, or never witnessed an enthusiasm for learning from their own parents. But as I said every person who interacts with that child becomes that child’s teacher, either reinforcing indifference to learning or inspiring. It is my mother’s deepest hope with this book to encourage others to give of their time to help inspire the children.
Interview with Sarah Mankowski
October 11, 2012
This interview was compiled from questions asked by visitors to my store and by readers. In most cases the questions were formed from multiple questions.
Q: What inspires the designs in your store?
A: I design, or ask my son J.D. to design, things that interest me. I love butterflies, for example. Therefore, my store includes many items with butterfly designs.
For several years now I have added Christmas cards, these being the cards that I wished to send to family and friends. They include original poems. Since the cards remain in the store, we have accumulated quite an assortment. In this way I have cards to send each year. Items purchased are an added blessing. I am very grateful to our customers for shopping at our Christmas store.
Q: Christmas poems?
A: Yes. I’m not much of a poet, but I try to write poems connecting the birth of Christ to our present-day lives. The message of Christ is always for the present. This year’s theme is The Bethlehem Star. In the poem I attempted to convey the idea that like faith unseen, this star soul-seen, remains our guide through the frustrations of everyday life.
Q: Your store includes many products created using your photos. Tell me about your photography in relation to being legally blind.
A: I was born with cataracts in both eyes. When this happens the cataracts are usually removed while the child is still quite young, and then corrective glasses must be worn. My situation was complicated by detached retinas. This left me almost completely blind in the left eye. I can only see light. For this reason the doctors left the cataract in my right eye. My “good-eye” sight is 20/200.
When I take photos, I am only looking through the right eye. One reason I take so many photos is, by doing so, I can study distant objects more clearly on the computer screen. This is certainly true when observing butterflies.
Q: Living in Florida, and as you say fourth-generation Floridian, how does location influence your work?
A: Living in a climate where I can garden year round keeps me outdoors year round, and enjoying nature with all my senses. I do not know if I can express this correctly, but when you must examine things much closer, it makes your little space seem much larger. My garden seems like some vast world with all the plants and critters as inhabitants. I suppose this shapes perspective in some way.
Q: You have been quite open about your faith after being agnostic for much of your adult life. How has your faith changed the direction of your store and your writing?
A: Regarding the store, The Christmas Store for certain. Christmas meant very little to me before I found faith, or rather faith found me ready to pay attention.
Gratitude to God for showing me that even when I believed myself alone, He was always there. I do not believe I possess the ability to properly express my gratitude, yet I try with the designs.
In writing, I said what I wished to say about faith and science in my novel As The Dominoes Fall. I have no plans to write another work of fiction that deals so overtly with Christianity. If I felt the need to say something, it would more likely be expressed in nonfiction. I am not cleaver enough to write these things without sounding preachy, which I would rather not do in fiction.
This past year I have rewritten and lengthened my novel Echo’s Voice into a six-episode series for Kindle. This is a novel set in the future. Religion only plays a role in the novel insomuch as religion is practically illegal in this future time.
Q: Has becoming a Christian changed the way you write?
A: Becoming a Christian has changed me inside, has filled me with gratitude for our loving God. It has made me think about my actions, including my creative endeavors. My boundaries, as I hope to be true with real-world neighbors, I do not wish to needlessly offend. Yet my characters will be who they are; just as real-world friends will be who they are.
Q: How do you think your writing is influenced by being legally blind?
A. That is really hard to answer. Because I do not see well enough to note facial expressions I tend not to add many details. I probably convey more through dialog.
Q: How did you become interested in writing?
A: My mother read to my sisters and me from babyhood. From earliest memory I was making up adventures for the characters, from the books she read. Many were the Doctor Dolittle adventures I invented.
Q: What are you currently working on? Future plans?
A: For the store, I am currently working on Our Christmas Store.
Writing: I am writing the seventh episode of Echo’s Voice. (Kindle only)
I am also working on a book about gardening. At this time I’m not sure if it will be Kindle only, or Kindle and print.
Q: How do you feel about reviews?
A: I am always grateful for reviews. Of course people will have varying opinions. Nevertheless, I am always grateful for feedback.