Dr. V’s take:
When things are crashing and surging all around you, and the writers and the thinkers and he scholars have dropped everything to conduct on autopsy of your country, your kids will still ask you to read them a book.
It might be good for you both to put down the news ticker on your smartphone and read them this one.
Amidst the noise and the panic, the white space and simplicity of the illustrations bring calm—-but “calm” here is not a euphemism for “silence,” because the words offer gentle but unyielding affirmation.
“The world belongs to you,” it says. It’s a simple truth that you belong here, regardless of what anybody else tries to tell you. And, what’s more,
“You are free. Hopefully.”
I hope we are free, too. But even if it turns out that our freedom has “limits,” The World Belongs to You goes on to remind us of the many ways in which our freedoms are unassailable by world powers of any kind. We are free, for example, “to love.” We are free “to be loved.” We are free “to let love go.” We are free “to be happy.”
But so too are we free “to be unhappy”—-and being unhappy, The World Belongs to You reminds us, “isn’t useless.” And though our freedom has limits, we are free “to overcome these limits.”
Sometimes, it’s good to sit close with the little people we love most and let a book lead us all through the things nobody can take away from us and encourage us to have confidence in things that are true.
One change I like to make when I read this book to my children: the second page and final page both state “You belong to the world.” When I read it, I say, “You belong in the world.” For, as the rest of The World Belongs to You asserts, we do not exist solely within physical matter—-but we all are worthy to live here, happy or unhappy, loving or letting love go.
Then, once you and your children have been reminded of everyone’s worth and of the ways in which we are always, always free, you can pick your smartphone/sign/petition up again and head back into the fray.