Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Going on a Treasure Hunt

I went to the flea market last weekend with my wife and kids. We went in search of tiny treasures. We were hoping to discover something my wife could use as a subject for her 21/365 painting project. Our search took us to many vendors - some friendly, others not. We searched high and low for just the right object. We never found it, but we did make a discovery. Beneath some old chapter books and sandwiched between a few mediocre pictures we found a real treasure. It was just sitting there waiting to be read, a first edition "Being an American Can Be Fun," by Munro Leaf.

For those of you unfamiliar with Leaf's many of his books have been reprinted and are well worth a read. We own "Reading Can Be Fun," "Manners Can Be Fun" and "How to Behave and Why." All of Leaf's books are written for children without speaking down to them. The illustrations are black and white line drawings with a healthy dose of humor. By today's standards the books are a little long and don't have any of the quick cuts in story lines that have become popular in many new books. So they are best read as short chapter books. 

"Being an American Can Be Fun" was written in 1964 and explores our "unalienable rights" of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Leaf defines what each right means to the individual. He then compares these rights as they are in the United States to communist countries around the world. Sure some of the information in out of date, but it honest and direct about how blessed we are in the United States.

This is a great book and I would love to see it reprinted. Unfortunately I think they would edit the copy too much to try and be politically correct and not offend communists. If you have not guessed by now, we did buy the book and proceeded to read it to our very appreciative children. It also prompted some great conversations about the greatness of America as compared to communist countries.

So don't forget about classic out of print books. You never know what you'll find.