Simbolei Community Assistance Association

« »

Wrapping Up Another Year with Some Great Books

So, lots of updates are in order. Due to family responsibilities, the Kaitanys were not able to relocate in July as planned. Currently, Richard is travelling back and forth between Michigan and Kenya every few months to keep things moving in both places. Our house is on the market and our shipping boxes are neatly packed and labeled. It won’t be long before ALL of us have a new home in Kenya.

But in the meantime, the holidays are approaching and that means time for some great new books for the Simbolei Library and for folks who visit us at holiday gift fairs.

Every year, I choose a few of the many amazing picture books that come out each year to suggest for holiday gift giving and for our Simbolei Library. My criteria include choosing new books by diverse authors and featuring children from a variety of ethnic, cultural, social and religious backgrounds that promote positive values. Also, I look for books with outstanding artwork. There are always too many amazing choices. But, I try to limit the list to five or six. So, without further ado, I introduce our first holiday book pick of 2019

This recent bestseller tells the story of Katherine Johnson who loved numbers and counting. After overcoming many challenges, particularly gender and race discrimination, Katherine grew up to work with NASA as a “computer,” completing complex equations needed for space flight. When the Apollo 13 spacecraft was damaged while returning to earth, Katherine managed to recalculate a new flight path quickly and accurately, saving the lives of the three astronauts who were able to return safely to earth. The book has lively illustrations that create a continuity of Katherine’s character as she grows older through the story. Katherine’s story is first a story of personal courage and talent, but also includes reference to historical discrimination against black people and women in the United States and especially in the fields of math and science. Further, this book is unusual in providing brief, simple explanations of Katherine’s actual work with advanced mathematics and physics that could be an interesting conversation starter for a math or science classroom. The book is perfectly suited to a seven to nine year old reader on their own or, with some help and possibly slightly simplified read aloud, would fascinate most four to seven year olds.

I will have copies of the book ready for purchase at the Lansing Peace and Education Holiday sale on November 15 and 16 and at the Presbyterian Church of Okemos Alternative Holiday sale on December 8.  Through the generosity of Schuler Books and Music, 30% of the purchase price at either of these sales will go directly to Simbolei Community Assistance to help fund our community library and other educational activities. If you would like to purchase a copy but are unable to attend the sales, please email me at and I can arrange to mail a copy to you.

Stay tuned for the rest of our holiday list over the next few days!

Leave a Reply

The Great Rift Valley is part of a huge tectonic rift in the earth's crust that also created the Red Sea and the valley of the Jordan River.

Donate today!
It's fast, easy & safe! Simbolei Paypal
Help us to raise funds by purchasing our cookbook.
Simbolei Girls Secondary School, Kenya