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Spring Edition
Volume 97, Number 4

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Donald Murk
Books that have shaped my life
an autobiography in books

As a child, I hated to read. Perhaps I grew tired of the external rewards for reading and never understood the real reasons we read. Despite this inauspicious beginning, I now consider myself a prolific reader.

Considering the books that have made an impact on my life, I decided on a process of elimination. Focusing on the books I have read recently, I would choose one that surpassed all the others. So I began the process which I want to share with you briefly. I hope you see a connection in these readings. In my current phase of life and on the path God is now leading me, these books have been most relevant.

Although all of the above are excellent and beneficial to read, the book that I want to highly recommend is The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America by Jonathan Kozol. As is true of all Kozol’s books, this one “gets under your skin.” It is thought-provoking, challenging beliefs about the poor and disadvantaged in our country. “The nation needs to be confronted with the crime that we’re committing and the promises we are betraying. This is a book about betrayal of the young, who have no power to defend themselves. It is not intended to make readers comfortable,” cautions Kozol.

The book—which represents vintage Kozol—is filled with stories of children and their teachers. Kozol uses the voices of the children and of the undefeated educators to challenge the educational practices now being imposed upon our urban systems. Kozol offers a challenge to the nation to fulfill the promise of quality education made some 50 years ago to all of our youngest citizens.

A light summer read? I think not. This is a book that will stretch and challenge you as a Christian living in a world where privilege for some is a norm, while heartache and powerlessness is the norm for others. It will motivate you to follow and practice the teachings of Jesus, which is precisely what we should be doing.

—Donald Murk is a professor of early childhood education and a Boyer Fellow.

Donald Murk joined Messiah College in 1981. He earned his Ph.D. in human development with an emphasis in child development from the University of Maryland in 1992. Murk enjoys integrating the concepts of renowned educator and Messiah College alumnus Ernest L. Boyer Sr. into his classes. He loves connecting current events to all of his classes and challenging students to live Christ-like lives.

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