A Lesson From Miss Rumphius

My kids and I just read this sweet little book, Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney.  This story can serve as a starting point to discuss a lot of things – measurement, geography, library skills, life-cycle of plants, etc.  All these things, and more, did make for good school lessons, but there was one more lesson that struck me the most. 

While little Alice, Miss Rumphius, was speaking to her grandfather, they had this exchange:

Alice would say, “When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea.”

“That is very well, little Alice,” said her grandfather, “but there is a third thing you must do.”

“What is that?” asked Alice.

“You must do something to make the world more beautiful,” said her grandfather.

“All right,” said Alice.  But she did not know what that could be.

Well, for Miss Rumphius, it turned out to be planting beautiful lupines all over her community.  She literally made the surroundings more beautiful.  We talked about all the ways one could make the world a more beautiful place, from picking up trash on the ground to treating others with kindness.  The possibilities are endless.

At the end of the book, Miss Rumphius had the same conversation with her great-niece, leaving another little girl to ponder how she could make the world a more beautiful place.  Shouldn’t we all look for opportunities to do just that? 

How will you make the world more beautiful today?

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