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