My daughter takes a yoga class at her preschool once a week (hey – that’s what I need – hmm, what’s wrong with this picture??). One day her yoga teacher was telling the kids about India and showed them a picture of the Himalayas. My daughter piped in with how the mountains looked like K2. Her yoga teacher’s eyes widened as my Little One went on about how her mommy was reading her Three Cups of Tea, all about this man who tried to climb K2 – the second highest mountain in the world – for his sister who died. (That’s only just the beginning of the story, but we had just started reading it at that point and that was pretty much where we were).
My daughter amazed us both that day. Her yoga teacher was blown away that this little 5-year old knew about Three Cups of Tea and I was blown away that she had actually been paying attention. Not that she normally doesn’t – she is one of these kids that takes in EVERYTHING; she never seems to miss a trick. It was more that I was really doing it more for my 2nd grader. It was something I wanted HIM to know about; that SHE took to it was really unexpected.
Three Cups of Tea has been on the NY Times Best Sellers List for over 2 years now. It’s been on my list of books to read for ages; one (like many) that I had just not gotten around to - yet. I knew the gist of the story, thought it sounded good, but I confess the connection (or the pull) just wasn’t quite there.
Then I ran across the Young Reader's Edition of the book, which just came out this year. Perfect – I thought. My son is devouring chapter books -- I would read it first just to make sure it was appropriate, and then pass it on to him. It would also be good for their 89-year old grandma, I decided. The larger print in this edition makes it easier to read and obviously there were less details to have to keep track of. Almost like a Reader’s Digest version of the story – yes, perfect for Grandma too!
Well, I loved it! L-O-V-E-D it. I think it should be required reading in every school (high school, junior high, even elementary) across the country. I think adults should read it too – just like all officers in the Pentagon who go into counter-insurgency are now required to do (with the regular version). It was too good to just pass it off to my son (plus I wanted to make sure it was being understood); I chose to read it to him, and my daughter – cuz she wants to do everything her brother does – every night at bedtime. Not surprisingly, they love it – BOTH of them! They ask for it – beg for it – hurry to get their nighttime “jobs” done so they can hear a chapter from the book.
We haven’t even gotten to the part at the end where they have included an extensive interview with Greg Mortenson’s 12 year old daughter. Questions and answers from a kid’s point of view – with lots of color and black & white photos too. I think that part will be an extra treat.
There is also a picture book version called Listen to the Wind that came out this year – geared more for preschoolers and Kindergartners – that takes some basic aspects of the story and combines them with beautiful artwork. Might be a good place to start if you don’t think your child is ready for hearing the Young Reader version. Then again, they might just surprise you with how much they take in and learn from it – my daughter sure surprised me.
There are so many “lessons” to talk about – so many points to pick up on – you really can make as much (or as little) of this as you want. Books like this don’t come around very often! I say, order it up. Read it yourself. Then pass it on to your teenager. Read it to your younger children. Give Three Cups of Tea to your nieces and nephews – and grandparents. Talk about the things that happen, the choices people make, the culture and kindness of people in the world. Can one man, one person, REALLY make a difference in the world?? One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to show them one person really can!