The Light In Me…Meets The Light In You!

By Diana Cohn

Illustrated by Amy Cordova                                                                                                    Synopsis

This is an extremely unique book about a young girl, Nima Sherpa, who is growing up in modern day Nepal (a remote area near the base of Mount Everest in the Himalayas). Nima’s father is a mountain guide and is often away from home on lengthy climbing expeditions. While he is gone, Nima misses his stories of the mountains. As he prepares for such an expedition, Nima and her mother perform a typical ritual of praying and placing a khata (scarf) around his neck for good luck. Nima then sets off for school and folds her hands and bows slightly while greeting people with the familiar word “Namaste” (nah-mah-stay) which means “the light in me meets the light in you.” Throughout her journey to school she greets porters, yaks and naks (pack animals), international travelers visiting the area, a Tibetan trader, and monks. All are involved in authentic activities of the region. Nima realizes she will have a story to tell her father upon his return of all the people she met and connected with as a result of her gracious greeting. The language is simple and clear. Also, numerous illustrations will help readers grasp ideas and events. There is an Afterword by Ang Rita Sherpa of The Mountain Institute.

Themes/Grade Levels

Cultural Awareness, Interpersonal Relations, Empathy, Compassion, Family, Strength

PreK – Grade 4

Classroom Use

This is one of the few children’s books available on Nepal. With cultural awareness as an immediate concern to educators, teachers may wish to use the work not only to introduce students to this part of the world. It is also an ideal work with which to welcome Sherpa children who are becoming members of our diverse classrooms.

Activity Description Teachers may wish to introduce the remote country of Nepal and the Nepalese people to students by connecting the location of the region to Mount Everest, a familiar icon to most students. She could encourage students to predict what the book might be about based on the jacket illustration (and/or students might enjoy trying to predict the meaning of the word “Namaste” if they are unfamiliar with the language). As the teacher reads the work, students might like to list other “observations” about the culture and region based on the text together with the illustrations. They might also be asked to compare the situations, events, and encounters Nima has with their own daily activities. 

Activity Description Teachers might wish to use this work within writing instruction for either an expository  compare/contrast writing passage or as more of a friendly letter, creative piece. In the latter activity, students could write a letter to Nima explaining daily events and activities they  encounter.

About the Author Author, Diana Cohn, is an educator and was a teacher for many years. She currently works for a national foundation that supports communities involved in promoting economic and environmental justice. She has a master’s degree in education from Teacher’s College, Columbia University and is the author of other multicultural works. including  Dream Carver and Si, Se Puede! Yes, We Can! Janitor Strike in L.A.

Steiner Books, 2009, 32 pages
ISBN  0880106255

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