Inspiration from the inspired

Marion Wright Edelman

Marion Wright Edelman (left of podium) is introduced as commencement speaker at Whittier College in Whittier, Calif.

Marion Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund and a leading advocate for children and the disadvantaged, gave the commencement address at my son David’s graduation from Whittier College last month.

This woman is a hero in the field of early childhood education. She is a visionary whose views have guided much of the current thinking about what children need to develop into healthy, productive adults. I found myself hanging on every word.

She told many stories from her childhood, which included just 14 short years with her father. He died en route to the hospital while insisting, in his last words to a young Marion, that she let nothing get in the way of her education.

Edelman made many admonishments to the Class of 2009. Perhaps my favorite was this: “Instead of spending your time and energy trying to find yourself, why not try to lose yourself — in service to others?”

She also had a great story for parents wondering how to keep their kids reading this summer. Wright Edelman came from a family that disdained idle hands and minds. She and her siblings were allowed a reprieve from chores “only if we were reading.” She paused, then added, “We did a lot of reading.”

Looking for a summer reading program? Check out our directory of programs in Maricopa County.

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One response to “Inspiration from the inspired

  1. If I could pass on only one kernal of advice to new parents, it would be to read. Read yourself, read to your child, make a ritual every single day centered around reading.

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