Save the Children with Books!



Waterstones has launched an industry-wide campaign to raise £1m by urging people to “Buy Books for Syria”.

In an unprecedented step, the industry’s top publishers from Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster to indies such as Profile Books and Canongate are donating titles from big name authors such as David Walliams, Neil Gaiman, Victoria Hislop and Ali Smith for Waterstones to sell through their stores under the ‘Buy Books for Syria’ banner, with 100% of the retail price going towards Oxfam’s Syria Crisis Appeal.

The charity promotion will begin on Thursday (1st October) with titles displayed on tables front of store in Waterstones’ 280 shops, stickered with the ‘Buy Books for Syria’ name.

The offerings will include both frontlist and backlist titles from a vast array of authors including Mary Beard, Alan Bennett, Michael Bond, William Boyd, Bill Bryson, Tracy Chevalier, Lee Child and Julia Donaldson.

The company’s m.d, James Daunt, is committed to launching the appeal despite it being the industry’s most crucial time of the year in the run up to Christmas.

He said: “In desperate times like these, everyone feels the need to do something, to help in some way. We are doing what we do best: bookselling, and it only feels right that every single penny of each book sold will go straight to Oxfam. We are proud to be able transform the generosity of authors and publishers into such a substantial contribution to Oxfam’s work.”

He told The Bookseller that “some-perhaps most” of the sales would substitute “sales upon which otherwise we would be earning money” in the run up to Christmas but added that the company was “very fortunate to have an owner and board who have put this to one side and supported the initiative.” Waterstones is owned by Russian oligarch Alexander Mamut.

Tom Weldon, c.e.o of Penguin Random House UK, added: “We often speak as an industry about the power of books to change lives – our aim with this campaign is to use the power of books to save lives. I’m humbled by the way publishers and authors are collaborating to support Waterstones and Oxfam in this initiative. I hope that together we can make a difference.”

The original idea for the campaign came from Profile editor Mark Ellingham. The titles in the appeal include Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Profile), War Horse by Michael Morpurgo (Egmont), Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (Vintage), One Day by David Nicholls (Hodder), The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury) and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Quercus/MacLehose), among others. Publishers have provided between 1,000 and 2,000 copies of all the titles to be sold for the appeal.

Support from UK publishers includes Atlantic Books, Bloomsbury, Canongate, Egmont, Faber, Granta, Hachette, HarperCollins, Pan Macmillan, Penguin Random House UK, Profile, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster and Usborne.

Other authors involved in the appeal include Mark Haddon, Matt Haig, Robert Harris, Khaled Hosseini, Max Hastings, Marian Keyes, Linda La Plante, Andrea Levy, Hilary Mantel, Peter May, Alexander McCall Smith, Caitlin Moran, Michael Morpugo, JoJo Moyes, David Nicholls, Ian Rankin, Tom Rob Smith, Salman Rushdie and Jacqueline Wilson.

Nicholls said: “This is a wonderful initiative, turning our passion for the written word into practical help at a time of terrible crisis.”

Smith added: “I support this initiative with heart, mind and soul.”

Mark Goldring, c.e.o of Oxfam, said the £1m of raised would help its program of delivering clean water to another 150,000 people in Syria, or providing support to tens of thousands of people in Jordan over the next year. “This help is urgently needed as the conflict in Syria shows no sign of ending,” he said.

Earlier in the month, authors and publishers lead by Patrick Ness helped to raise over £600,000 for Save the Children’s refugee appeal by pledging to match donations from members of the public.

Helping those in the refugee camps is important. There have not been this many refugees in Europe since WWII. Hey, Rock world, how about a benefit concert? Let’s all come up with ideas to help these poor people who have lost everything. They are our brothers and sisters. This is one world and we all share it.



Religion: The View from the Coming Generation

I found this video on, and found it fascinating to see what was, to me, a different view of religion being expressed by children.

These children are Indian and Pakistani, but I wonder how different the views of American, British or European children would really be.

I’m sharing this post with you because we need to listen to the children, because, right now, they are pure and uncorrupted; and because we need to realize how the division between us brings about hatred and, often, wars.


I really would love to hear your comments on this one.  I think the opinions of these children is worth a good, honest discussion between us, the people who care about peace in the world.









You Have to Be Carefully Taught

My youngest grandson is 5 years old, and in pre-school.  He has lived his entire life in conservative areas, first in Arkansas, now in Oklahoma.  I talked to his mother today, and she told me that when he came home from school today, the following conversation took place:

“Mom, Mr. Obama is our President, did you know that?”

“Yes, honey, I did know that.  Did you know that he’s our First President of Color?”

“No, mommy!  He’s not the First President!  And he’s not the President for Color, he’s the President of All of Us!”

A 5-year-old can get that, but Congress, or at least many Republicans, apparently can’t.

Obama is the first President of Color, but to the youngest generation, that doesn’t matter.  What matters is:  He’s President of America.  Period.

Color is irrelevant, at my grandson’s age, because at 5, he has not been taught to hate people who look differently than he does, or who worship differently than he does, or who worship not at all.  At 5, we’re all just People.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Just People.

Think of what a wonderful world it could be, if he were never taught that all people whose skin has a different hue are dangerous or stupid or lazy or out to get him in some undefined way.  Think of what a wonderful world it could be, if he were never taught that his God hates the way other people worship the same God and that they will be punished for believing differently.  Think of what a wonderful world it could be, if he were never taught that all people in foreign lands, or whose parents or grandparents come from foreign lands, want to destroy our country, or hurt his family.

What would the world be like if we never taught our children to hate, or to fear or to be intolerant and prejudiced?  Can you imagine such a world?

It’s hard, looking at the news and beheadings and bombings and riots and protests, to imagine a world without hatred being taught to children.

But I, for one, think it’s worth trying.











Gun violence in America

5-year-old boy finds gun, shoots baby brother in head

The Slow Accumulation of Evidence






I have had much to say about the shoot down of Malaysian Flight 17.  The media is telling us a lot and some may not be true. Some things may be exaggerated or twisted up. There are some things I am certain of. This shoot down of a civilian plane is an act of war. Pure and simple. Nothing anyone says can change that fact. There were eighty children and 3 infants killed. How do parents and grandparents deal with this senseless loss? A hole has been punched into the family of man. I can only imagine what they must be enduring. I personally can’t see how they can survive this loss.


Only by a careful search of the crime scene will we ever have answers. But we have been told that people have been looting and removing items from the scene. A souvenir, really? That is what matters to these people? That is so sick and so wrong. There is no way to excuse this behavior. War is killing innocent children here and in the war between the Palestinians and the Israelites. War is no answer. War is only going to bring more hatred and violence. Thousands of years have passed and human beings have still not learned to live in peace. This is shameful.




stopkillingchildren                                                                                      Innocent people are killed in war…guns are being shot. Missiles bring down 

                                                                                      planes. Why? War? 


The other thing which disturbs me is that bodies are still lying on the ground. They are beginning to decompose and valuables are being taken. The Ukraine is not in charge of the land that the plane was shot down in. No one is in charge. No one is guaranteeing the dignity of the victims. This is unacceptable. Their souls have left but the families deserve to be able to bury their dead loved ones. Each corpse deserves to be treated with respect and sacredness. It doesn’t matter what their nationality or religion is. The people at the site need to treat these dead as they would their own loved ones.


“O Thou, the Cause and Effect of the whole Universe, the Source from whence we have come and the Goal towards which all are bound: receive these souls who are coming to Thee into Thy parental arms. May Thy forgiving Glance heal their hearts. Lift them from the denseness of the earth, surround them with the light of Thine own Spirit, Raise them up to Heaven, which is their true dwelling place. We pray Thee grant them the blessing of Thy most exalted Presence. May their lives upon earth become as a dream to their waking soul, and let their thirsting eyes behold the glorious Vision of Thy Sunshine. Amen.

—Hazarat Inayat Khan



In Memoriam to the passengers of Flight 17 Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

In Memoriam to the passengers of Flight 17 Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Children and Family Services

In America, we all know that each state has a foster system set up to protect children from homes where they are battered, molested or neglected. There are many single parents in our society and that is an added stressor for the parent. If the parent has medical or mental health issues, that can make the ability to take care of one of more children more difficult. I am sure that many of you are shaking your head in agreement.


With the crash of 2008, many people lost there jobs and their health insurance. They also struggled to keep a roof over the family’s heads and food on the table. Now being a single mom is not a picnic and children need to be protected. Being a single dad or mom is a full time job. They need support such as family members, care givers, teachers, pediatricians and many others.


I have a story about a hard working young mother who had a hypersensitive toddler. She had a babysitter who would stay with her little one while she was at work. One day the little girl got so out of control, the sitter called the police. She was placed in a special needs day care and it was supposed to help. She tore the place apart and they no longer wanted her. Her behavior was too alienating for the staff. She was finally diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder and a mood disorder.


The mother called government agencies asking for help. The state’s Community Services Board sent a therapist for counseling sessions and provided a mentor. Things began to look up. Cuts to the state’s budget began to affect services which cut some of the services that had been helping this family.  The little girl grew and kept getting better. One day she  had what I call a meltdown. They had run out of her favorite candy at day care,  The  mom had to chase her and became short of breath. She asked a friend to watch her little one and went to the hospital. The hospital diagnosed her with pneumonia.


That night, she was talking to the nurse on duty and confessed that she was overwhelmed by her daughter’s hyperactivity. She stated she didn’t know exactly what she was going to do. The nurse apparently in the mom’s opinion took it  “overboard.”  The staff called Child Protective Services on her.


Right now, there are 58,000 children living in faster care in America who are legal orphans. These are children who have had their parental rights terminated by the courts. Most of the approximate 400,000 children who end up in the system are there because of parental neglect. Many cases are connected to poverty and a lack of community and government support.


In our case, the mom asked for the little girl to be sent to her father in Texas until she got some help and back on her feet again. The father could not control the little girl and she ended up in the Texas foster system. The state of Texas sent the mom a letter asking her to come to Texas for a hearing. She didn’t have the money for the airplane ticket. She would have had to fly from Virginia to Texas.  So she did not go. The next communication she received from Texas was a letter stating that her parental rights had been terminated.


Once children are in the foster care system, it is difficult for families to reunite.At least 15% of children in the system live in institutions or group homes.  Most of the children in the foster care system  suffer from emotional distress. Nearly one half of them have chronic health issues.


In general, federal law requires authorities to begin proceedings to terminate parental rights within fifteen months of a child entering the foster care system.

Once rights are terminated, the children become stuck in temporary homes and other temporary situations. Some of these children will eventually be adopted. As many as 40% of children age out of the system. In other words, they stay there until they are eighteen and then they are on their own. 60% of children who enter the system as teens, are never adopted. And again age out at eighteen.


Once in foster care, most families are placed in a binary system: Parents and children must reunite  completely, or be separated permanently.Children with a troubled or an unsafe home life may indeed need a separation from parents. But they still can need the parent sometimes. These parents may be the only stability in a foster child’s life.


Now, at least sixteen states have provisions for reinstating parental rights, but it rarely happens The family courts are trying to get more leeway for children and their birth parents. Reinstatement of parental rights is not on the menu right now. The states are promoting a Temporary Termination of Rights so that a parent can get treatment, health care or find a new job and then have their children back.


Another problem is that about 23% of children in foster care are placed with relatives in what is called kinship foster care, often with grandparents. These grandparents are often retired and on a fixed budget. Only 4 states guarantee that guardians receive the same amount of funding provided to foster parents. 20% of states still provide no subsidized guardianship  funding at all. So if Grandma is taking care of the children for awhile, she gets no money to dress or feed them. This is a huge societal gap which needs to be addressed.


Parenthood is the most important thing we do in this life and we never receive instruction. Parents wing it and hope for the best. Children need to receive better than this if they are going to grow up as mentally healthy members of society.

I thought that it was time that we looked at our Foster Care system here in America and began to think about ways to improve it, and make it actually helpful to children, instead of a place where more harm can occur.  I’m interested in your constructive feedback, and starting a discussion.  Please don’t hesitate to share your own experiences — the more we all know, the better the chance that a solution can be found.











littlegirllittlegirl2littleboy3 littleboy

As the 99% Grows Older

This year, 2014 is going to be remembered for many tragedies. Not as big as 9-11 or the crash of 2008. It will be marked by millions of tragedies marked as insignificant. Our government leaders mark them as insignificant. The people who are homeless, hungry, fallen off the employment-goround, are disabled or who at one time had a good job and now have nothing left, are fallen through the cracks on a daily, nay hourly basis.


I love all of our wild animals. I am allergic to all animals and birds. Fish are the exception. If you were to take the blinders off and really look around, you would see millions of starving American citizens. Many of these starving citizens are children.  My point being, that we seem to care more about stray dogs and cats than we do starving children. In many states, children do receive free lunches at school which is a help. Have you ever tried to eat one meal a day and grow and learn and receive good grades? In some states, some children also receive a free breakfast. When was the last time that a child came home from school and wasn’t starving?  Even though dinner will be given to them in a couple of hours.


When our poor children come home from school, there is often no food or perhaps some  oatmeal.  Did they learn at school that day? Well, actually not. Because their stomachs were rumbling, they couldn’t focus because they were hungry, and sad and their minds ramble around in their heads because they want more food, or sleep. Domestic Violence often keeps millions of children awake because of screaming and crying. Or they may have been dragged to the Emergency Room so Mom can receive treatment.



In our society, children go hungry

In our society, children go hungry. Who else goes hungry? The elderly. Since the 2008 crash, rents climb every year because many could no longer afford to stay in their homes. Gas prices are very high.  Food prices are through the roof. So our seniors living on a fixed income or disability need to cut back and then back some more. And these are former professional people, former teachers, firemen and former police officers. The ones who risk their lives every day and chose to give back to the world. Now they have a fixed income and can’t afford many of their medications, can’t afford to buy healthy food because it costs more. They eat less vegetables and fruits. They don’t go anywhere, because they don”t have the money to spend for even a simple movie.

The young and the elderly are the two groups in America who suffer the most. They are the ones we look away from. They are a reminder of what the GOP, the Grand Old Party have done to the Americans who were not born into or worked their way into the 1%. Rich Philanthropists give away millions everyday and some of it might even go the the people who need it. Much of it goes to organizations and their executives and not to the homeless and hungry.


The GOP would have us believe that in this country, if you aren’nt rich, you are a slacker, a lazy bum. Our children coming home from war, who have risked their lives and come back to American soil physically and mentally and emotionally injured and scared are overlooked as well. We don’t want to see them because their suffering reminds us that we sent them to other countries to fight in wars.


What can be done? Well, we can get out and vote. Not just in Presidential elections, but in all elections. We can take off the blinders and see who is suffering around us and act. Write to your Congressmen and Senators. Go to your poling place and vote in November for the candidates who care about the less fortunate. Democrats this means you too. We often don’t vote in the middle elections. We vote in the Presidential elections. We need to keep in place the Congress in our states and in Washington and in our states who care that the man living in the old run down house down the block is slowly starving to death. The Death Certificate will say “natural causes” and I say that we as a society killed him. The hungry child isn’t going to learn enough to improve his/her position in life. They will probably quit high school to find a minimum wage job to try to augment the family income. They may meet some other young people who are in a gang and really realize how little they have and how much others have. Then bitterness, anger and resentment begin to grow in their hearts. Gangs provide not only violence, drugs, prostitution and death, they provide people who care. Gangs use the term “homey” because the largest segment of society do not care about them and see them as a liability. We must change things here in America. Not just for the 1% but also for the 99%. The guy who chose to be a cop instead of a professional football player isn’t worth less because all he did was to save lives and risk his everyday.


So, I ask you to vote in our election later this year. Vote for the people who are decent and caring. Turn your back on the political machine that manipulates what happens to the people who live in our country. Vote for the women and men who are not dirty and don’t see politics as a way for them to get rich and to have the power they crave. Vote for the fairly rare politician who cares about the kids and the elderly. Remember we will all be elderly one day; how sad if your votes will leave you hungry or without being able to afford your meds. How sad if you can’t go and visit your grandchildren because the money for a plane ticket is more than the cost of feeding yourself for six months.



Vote this year to give everyone that opportunity

Vote this year to give everyone that opportunity