The jacket of this new edition shows the inspiration for the first book, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall,. In the fall of 1990, Margy Burns Knight heard poet Doug Rawlings, co-founder Veterans for Peace read his poem, “The Wall,” with these lines:
staring into the Wall
through my own reflection
beyond the names of those who died so young
The idea grew from a few thoughts scribbled on a piece of paper to a book that has now been in print for more than twenty years, and its companion. Thanks to our thousands of readers, and to educators who have explored the concept of walls in their classrooms.
Since we created these books, the world has changed. There are new walls, such as the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico, and the separation wall that is also called a fence or barrier in Israel.
There have been changes to old walls. Some are deteriorating due to wear from the elements, pollution and too many visitors. Ten of these walls have been designated as World Heritage Sites, to preserve their history for future generations. The prison walls that confined Nelson Mandela on Robben Island are now part of a museum (which Anne Sibley O’Brien visited in 1998 on a trip to South Africa). As we write this, we’ve just received news that the Belfast Peace Lines may be taken down by 2023.
And there are new ways to tell stories. The original research for the first Talking Walls was done almost exclusively through books, magazine articles, and in-person interviews. Almost none of it was done online. Now, at the click of a key, more information about the world appears than any student could possibly use. How do we know what information is reliable?
With this new edition, we invite you to join us on an expanded journey to become citizens of our world. The more we learn about our neighbors, and ourselves across the street or across the globe, the more we find points of connection. We hope the stories in this book will inspire you to ask lots of questions find more information and discover more stories.
As we say to the students we meet, “Fasten your seatbelts! Here we go on a trip around the world!”
Margy Burns Knight
Anne Sibley O’Brien
I took six of the original Talking Walls illustrations to a literacy night in Augusta and told the stories about the decorated walls. I handed out a list of 30 items for the students and their families to find. The families had fun finding and talking about the items in each illustration. The little brothers and sisters created and talked about their own Talking Wall.
Take a look at this website. Since ten of the walls in my book are on the WHS protected list I talk a lot about preservation with students and teachers.
This a great blog to follow news and information from and about the African continent!
Of course we don’t literally believe Africa is a Country (unlike say rapper Rick Ross). The title of the blog is ironic and is a reaction to old and tired images of “Africa”. We deliberately challenge and destabilize received wisdom about the African continent and its people in Western media — that definition includes “old (nationally oriented) media,” new social media as well as “global news media”.
Last spring I talked to a 5th grade class about the illustration and story in Talking Walls about the WALL in DC. We talked about Maya Lin and the polished granite and since 1982 how so many people have spent time at the wall.
I then asked the students if they had any comments or questions and one boy told me he had a question. He was wondering if so many people visited the wall and touched it with their hands and tears and then left things he thought the wall would be very dirty and wanted to know if anyone ever washed it. I told him that no one had ever asked me that question before , but what did he think?. He was not sure and I told him it would be easy to find out, so I read this article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/washing-the-wall-to-remember-vietnam-vets/2011/05/09/AGJxZsCH_story.html and when I was in DC on a sunny spring day I helped to wash the wall. It was an amazing, moving experience to join other volunteers not only to wash a national monument, but also to meet and talk to veterans and tourists who came to visit the wall that day. I took pictures back to the 5th graders and thanked the student for his question and reminded them they too could wash the wall!