U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids: Growing My Leadership Garden
Leader Garden Press, September 2009
Debra J. Slover is well aware that books read in childhood leave a lasting impression. She defines a young mind’s potential as a leadership garden. With the right cultivation, Slover believes every child can find the leader within. Her book sheds light on the seeds that form the foundation of a deeply rooted character.
Slover’s goal is “to seed and nurture 11 million leadership gardens by 11-11-2011.” Her mission is to provide children with tools to better themselves. “Imagine the future of our planet if we nurture each leader to sprout greatness,” she states. She focuses on awakening the child’s inherent abilities. It is not an adherence to a strict dogma or a step-by-step formula to mold a child to some preexisting ideal. Instead, a child’s uniqueness is what is cherished. Leaders are not defined by the power to control, but by how they empower others through love. For Slover, leaders connect well with others because they combine their thoughts, feelings and behaviors into good choices.
The fable of the lost sheep Hugh is reiterated in the children’s edition. The illustrations by Darlene Warner are more numerous and in color. Chapters conclude with a “Hugh Wants to Know” questionnaire reinforcing the moral lessons taught by each farm animal. The leadership concepts are explained with a vocabulary appropriate for ages 8 to 12. As Slover states, “It is an ideal book to be read aloud and discussed over eight sessions at home, in school or in youth groups.”
Children will undoubtedly respond to the imagery of spring’s arrival on the farm. The details of nature are meant to stir the physical senses while the accompanying leadership lessons awaken a child’s curiosity and problem-solving skills. It is a winning combination to engage the mind, body, and spirit in character-developing activities.
Slover’s approach is realistic. Things happen in the outside world that cannot be controlled. Hugh’s mother is attacked by coyotes. Howard the Horse is left to starve by his previous owner. Hugh is bullied by the farmer’s son. Just by reading this book, bad things will not go away. Change depends on how children respond. A child’s purpose and aim must play to his or her strengths. By tapping into their innate abilities, children are then able to face life’s challenges. When one child demonstrates this inner strength, it empowers others to hone their leadership potential. One by one, new gardens are grown.
Nicole Langan owns the independent publishing house, Tribute Books.