I came across an old photograph of a Christmas morning when I was in elementary school. There in the photo was one of my all-time favorite books, The Solar System. It’s filled with large pictures of the sun and all of the planets and even the asteroid belt. It gave the best thoughts of the day concerning each object, and tried to convey the great distances. I believe there was a small telescope to complete the gift. (My brain changes from sunny to partly cloudy when it comes to Christmases past.) That science book taught me to appreciate the heavens above. The first real chapter book that I read was Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson. I think I had seen the movie with Wallace Berry and Jackie Cooper and learned it was based on a book. I never wanted to be a pirate, but I did begin to yearn to see the world. One of my favorite book categories continues to be biographies of interesting people from all walks of life.
Two biographies I have been suggesting lately are Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story by Ben Carson and Cecil Murphy. Unbroken recounts the life of Louis Zamperini whose remarkable story traces his impoverished childhood through the track events of the 1936 Olympics, on to WWII where he survives a plane crash in the Pacific, weeks on a life raft and years in a Japanese Prison Camp. His story of spiritual redemption and forgiveness following the war can only be described as amazing. At 94 Zamperini continues to share his story as an inspirational speaker based in California.
Ben Carson was the second son of a teen-aged mother in urban Baltimore. His father abandoned the family leaving his illiterate mother to raise her sons alone. Filled with intense anger Ben discovers the real call of his heart, born out of a persistent, encouraging mother, a spiritual encounter with God and the amazing power of books. Dr. Ben Carson, now 60, is a neurosurgeon and Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University, a position he has held for almost 30 years. Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story has been made into a movie starring Cuba Gooding, Jr.