Book Review: Jonathon Kozol

Book Reviews:  Literature that draws readers into the proximity of renewal.

Jonathon Kozol’s stories remain in readers thoughts long after they are read.  His words are sometimes uncomfortable to take in and nudge readers from complacency.  His writing is also deeply moving because the stories are authentic.  Kozol has traveled the city streets, sat in homes, classrooms, and immersed himself in the people whose stories he tells.

Each one of Jonathon Kozol’s books draw readers into the proximity of renewal.  These books are life-changing to read.

Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools focuses on the disparity of resources in public schools in East St. Louis, New York City, Camden, Cincinnati, and Washington D.C.

Rachel and her Children  touches on families that encounter homelessness.

Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation looks closely at the Mott Haven district of the South Bronx in New York City.


Other titles by Jonathon Kozol:

Ordinary Resurrections: Children in the Years of Hope

Death at an Early Age

The Shame of a Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, Letters to a Young Teacher

Free Schools

The Night is Dark and I am Far from Home

Prisoners of Silence: Breaking the Bonds of Adult Illiteracy in America

Visit a website dedicated to his work .


A Response:   Visit

This non-profit organization partners donors with classrooms.  100% of the donation goes to the classrooms.

  • Teachers post their specific needs
  • Pick the classroom you want to donate to
  •  In return you receive correspondence to witness your impact
  •  Donations are accepted in a very easy to navigate, shopping cart method
  •  The donation allows teachers to buy critical supplies that make a difference in the lives of their students.


Be Still










Being still moves us against the grain of society.

Slowing down means we may possibly fall behind.

If we slow our momentum enough quiet might come, quiet that opens us up to all that is unsettling in our hearts.


We feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of opportunities.

We feel overwhelmed by all the gathering, pinning, and sorting.

We feel overwhelmed with how to squeeze these opportunities into our already busy schedule.


Be still long enough to listen.

Pause long enough to dream.

Jot down the opportunities that tug at your heart.


Know God. He honors a deliberately seeking heart.

Choose one new way you hope to give in the coming week.

No offering is too small.

Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God



Children’s Giving Projects

Families: teaching children to bring renewal and give understanding to others.









Children’s Giving Projects


The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee provides exciting resources for families and children’s groups.

Free-A-Family Giving Project:

My kids really enjoyed this project.  A booklet with seven lessons is available.

The lessons talk about family life in developing countries.

Children can learn about how work is being provided for clean water, education, schools, clinics, and churches around the World.  A community poster is also included.  After each story children can add a sticker to the poster that illustrates the story.  We have been adding up money in our giving bank and hope to adopt a family soon.

There are a number of other resources for family projects that cover the topics of clean water, living in hope with AIDS, and literacy.

Coming this Week at About Proximity

Monday Feb 27, 2012 

  • Learn about the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee children’s giving projects.

Tuesday Feb 28, 2012

  • Encouragement to be still        

Wednesday Feb 29, 2012

  • Literature that draws readers into the proximity of renewal: Author Jonathon Kozol                                         

Thursday March 1, 2012

  • Encouragement to fix giving firmly into your life

Friday March 2, 2012

  • Donating Dress Clothes for Woman: Professional, Formal, and Wedding Dresses














Giving: to bring renewal to other lives

For those of limited means giving to a cause can feel nothing short of impossible.

Whether you are temporarily going through hard times or continually find financial difficulties, donating can be a tangible way to give. 

You might feel what you are offering is small.

Every donation is a substantial gift to another human being.

Donation requires sacrifice.  Donating is an act of letting go of something, releasing what you own so someone else can have a need met.

A selfless act is donating while not expecting to replace the object with another material thing or monetary reimbursement.

Using Sesame Street as a Tool

Families: teaching children to bring renewal and give understanding to others

The colorful puppets of Sesame Street have been a part of family life for forty-three years.  Inevitably tough issues need to be faced in families.  When children are young, an added comfort to parents or loved ones words of assurance, might be the beloved friends from Sesame Street.

For Parents:  Go to the Sesame Street Website for parentsChoose the topics and activities link where featured topics are highlighted.  Click the view more button, here you can choose from a variety of issues and find videos and discussion questions.  Watch these short videos together and talk about what you and your child observe.  All material is child-appropriate and developed by professional educators.

Learn about bully prevention by watching The Good Bird’s Club and work through the provided discussion questions.  Tackle challenging issues like grief and dealing with feelings.  Sesame Street strives to be relevant and Families Stand Together touches on job loss, something many children have experienced in their families.  Other excellent resources include material about: healthy eating, saving, spending and sharing, hygiene, exercise, and preparing for doctor visits.

Diversity: At Sesame Street Workshop you can view a World map with your children. The map marks all the places in the World that broadcast Sesame Street.  Talk with your children about how kids all around the world speak different languages and live in different ways.  Even though there are many differences children everywhere love the characters of Sesame Street.

Our Impact highlights the work Sesame Street workshop has done and continues to do around the world to make a difference in the lives of children.   Takalani Sesame Street of South Africa features a character named Kami who has HIV.  In a world where this is children’s reality, Kami can soften fear and promote understanding.  In the United States, a new Sesame Street character named Lily was introduced due to the job loss the United States has faced.  Lily visits a food pantry and is food insecure, meaning she does not get three meals a day.

The World somehow feels a little smaller when the hands of lovable puppets join us together.

The Act of Receiving

The grace to accept an offering from another is sometimes difficult. 

We had spent an entire spring day exploring the city of Chicago.  A day trip to the city is an adventure my family tries to take each year.  The evening was fast approaching and our legs were growing weary.  Just before our parking area, we stopped at a street level convenience store to buy a drink and a snack for the ride home.

The outside façade of the convenience store was dilapidated.  The interior was equally worn.  Inside, the merchandise that filled the store was sparse.  Two men stood behind the counter and they spoke English with heavy accents.

We paid for our purchases and turned to leave.  The taller man summoned us to stop and come back. Coming out from behind the cash register, he placed a Cadbury egg in the hand of my daughter and son.  He did not speak.  He just smiled and proudly gave.  We thanked him and left the store.

Part of me wanted to rush back inside and pay him for the Cadbury eggs but that act would have robbed that man of his ability to give.

His small gift profoundly touched my family.  We will always remember his act of kindness.

We all have the ability to give and to receive.           

About Proximity

Place yourself in the proximity of renewal. 

Do justice.  Love Mercy.  Walk Humbly.                        


If need does not brush against the proximity of our lives, turning away finds simple.


When we put the needs of others in our proximity, we are changed.

We become an intricate part of the act of renewal in the life of others and in our own lives.

Our lives find deeper meaning and purpose.


We are ALL made in the image of Christ.

We ALL have a story and a voice worthy to be heard.

We are ALL loved beyond measure by our creator.


Serving others means showing up:

….even if you feel un-equipped
….even if you do not have immense material resources
….even if you feel unworthy
We all have something to give.

Place yourself in the proximity of need.

Your own life will open wide in renewal.