PEACE BEGINS WITH YOU by Kathrine Scholes. Illustrated by Robert Ingpen. Sierra Club Books/
Little Brown and Company. 1990. $10.95.If there was a book that I wish all children could read right now it would be "Peace Begins With You." When media coverage is monopolized with messages of "anti-peace," this book brings another option to the young reader. "Peace can feel warm, bright and strong - or calm, cool and gentle . . . it means different things to different people."
The authors describe what happens when people's needs or wants don't seem to fit together and result in arguments, angry words, silences and even fighting.
The conflicts of war can be difficult for all of us; for children it can be devastating. Homes, classrooms and counseling centers are suggesting strategies to help children understand the death and destruction that are so immediately visible on television programming.
"Peace Begins With You" relates peace at local, national and international levels. "Every day, people make choices about peace . . . some choices lead, in the end, to war . . . often it only takes one to begin the first step toward a peaceful solution."
While the children may be aware of the steps that may have been taken toward a peaceful solution, this book notes, "Working for peace may be harder than using force. . . . You may have to learn new skills, new ways of thinking and planning."
Scholes brings the solution to a personal level with suggestions on how to be a peacemaker: "Learn about different ways of living and thinking . . . learn how to listen and how to see things from another point of view . . . learn how to solve problems peacefully in your own life, because peace begins with you . . . "
The small book carries the message as large as life. The language shifts from lyrical sounding phrases to terse commentary about people around the world. Ingpen's full-color paintings complement the text with people of all ages focused on peaceful and violent action. Particularly sensitive is a demonstrator throwing a lighted grenade followed by the next scene of a mother's warm embrace. Children dying of malnutrition, a group resolving a conflict on paper, children on play equipment all add to the power of the illustrations that tell the story of peace and conflict and their impact on humanity.
"Peace Begins With You" is a book I will carry around as I visit classrooms and meet with friends. It will have a yellow ribbon bookmark and be shared often. Hopefully, very soon all the world can understand this simple message.