Many of the poor kids in South Africa have no toys. None. No books, no dolls, no puzzles. It's just not a priority for families faced with barely enough resources to buy food. Riding to the rescue of these kids' imagination is the Toy Library.
Officially called the Active Learning & Leisure Libraries, they provide "access to a collection of play materials including toys, games, puzzles, activities, educational aids and general play equipment."
Read the full Monitor story -- maybe share it with your family if you're gathering tomorrow for Christmas. You can find out more about them and make a donation at www.activelearninglibraries.org.za
For a little music appropriate to this story, we turn to Hradistan & Jirí Pavlica. Their album Hrajeme si u maminky (We Play With Mom) is the first kids' album I heard from the prolific and varied Czech label Indies Records, and it's a charmer. Accessible without sounding watered down, the 37 (yep, 37!) short songs include adult and kid voices with simple, catchy melodies. The songs are organized by season: zima (winter), jaro (spring), leto (summer), podzim (fall), along with four ukolebavky (lullabies).
The words are from a book by Jirina Rakosnikova, I'd be singing along if I knew some Czech. The lyrics are included, but no translation or song summaries, as the album is apparently intended for a domestic audience. Which doesn't mean you and any nearby kids won't enjoy it.
[mp3] Hradišťan & Jiří Pavlica: Já mám koně
From the album Hrajeme si u maminky (We Play With Mom)
Merry Christmas to those of you who observe it. To the rest, I wish you warm solstice greetings. May joy and light, inspiration and action, be with you whether you are (like me) anticipating the lengthening of days, enjoying the warmth of the tropics, or sweating in the heat of a Southern hemisphere summer. Peace, my global friends. And be sure to play.