My mother was not a reader. She was a looker! She observed her world.

Once, when asked what book she would recommend to others, her answer was, “the Book of Nature–just look around!”

I’ve thought of that idea often. Of course, mother seemed to assume that she couldn’t do both: read books and read life. To me, there is no such conflict, but she lived as if there were. She’d look around, and not down into pages. She’d be the adventuress, and not the armchair adventuress.

And her legacy? I believe I learned to observe and I hope today’s children learn to do that also. As a result, in February/March, the Boston Children’s Museum will exhibit my collection of street crossing signs of children from around the world! As I’ve traveled, I’ve observed that signage (of the two children going to school) in different countries is very different; reflecting different cultures.. More on this show later. The power of observation! Most of my friends told me they never noticed street signs–and now they do.

But mother’s legacy lives on. Open your eyes! See the world! Get out of the IPad and IPhone—check the passing scene. She would tell us to do that. And, I have to say, there’s wisdom in her words.

About Miriam

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA—an expert in public education, focused on special education law— is a lawyer, author, speaker, consultant, and reformer. For more than 35 years, Miriam worked with educators, parents, policy makers, and citizens to translate complex legalese into plain English and focus on good practices for children. Now, she focuses her passion on reforming special education, with her new book, Special Education 2.0—Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law. Presentations include those at the AASA Conference, Orange County (CA), Boston College (MA), CADRE (OR), and the Fordham Institute (DC). Her writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Education Week, Education Next, Hoover Digest, The University of Chicago Law Review on line,, and The Atlantic Monthly on line.

2 Responses to “Mother did not like to read books…”

  1. Michael Kurtzig

    I did not know that Mother did not read books. I agree with you and her that life is a book and being observant and learning from observing is very important. Books however do play a very important role in learning and seeing as we cannot be everywhere nor see everything. Television, videos, movies, internet have served that purpose. I was not a big book reader until recent years. I always read non-fiction but more recently am reading fiction or historical fiction. For example, one book you may enjoy is entitled The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman which gives a first person account of life post the destruction of the second Temple, ending in Massada. Another is Half Broke Horses which is about growing up in the West, you may enjoy that.


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