Baha’is see the young as the most precious treasure a community can possess. In them are the promise and guarantee of the future. Yet, in order for this promise to be realised, children need to receive spiritual nourishment, such as can be found in the children’s classes happening all around the world.
We Are One — A New Children’s Book by Melissa Charepoo
Our family loves Melissa Charepoo’s books and her latest title, We Are One, is a gem. Centred on the theme of the oneness of humanity, this book (available in both English and Spanish) will help instil in the hearts of even the youngest children this unifying fundamental principle of the Baha’i Faith.
Melissa, gracious as ever, agreed to tell us a little about this book. We hope you enjoy our conversation:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us about what inspired you to write this book and how it differs from the other wonderful books for children that you’ve written? Why was writing this book important and meaningful to you?
I have always been fascinated by the images that metaphors in the Baha’i Writings create. For a while, I have had the idea of a book that celebrates those metaphors, that are very unique to our Faith. But it wasn’t until the summer of 2020 that I felt it was a priority. Like all of us, I was heartbroken and outraged by witnessing the evidence of the blatant racism and injustices our fellow black brothers and sisters must endure and survive daily. Hence, I felt the need to create something that would help parents, even in a small way, educate their children about the oneness of humanity. Together with We Are One, I created two other books that go into detail about the importance of striving for justice as a requisite for unity in diversity geared towards children 7 years and older.
I felt We Are One was an important book to establish the foundation for little children — as an asseveration that without a doubt we have all been created equal and that we are all one. It celebrates the Baha’i Teachings about the oneness of humanity that are central to the Faith. It differs from other books I have created in that it is more geared towards children 3-5 years old, which is a great resource for developing readers. I felt that this book was a necessary contribution for this age group because it explains in quite simple terms, and with images inspired in the natural world how we are all one humanity.
Baha’i Blog: How did you decide what quotations or metaphors to use?
I did extensive research on the metaphors about the oneness in the Baha’i Holy Writings. Starting with children’s prayers and including the classic Baha’i song “We Are Drops”, I also researched the metaphors in many titles such as Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, and Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha. I included most of the metaphors about oneness I could find: 14 in total.
Baha’i Blog: How has the book been received so far?
Families are loving the book. I have been getting beautiful messages, pictures, and videos of how much their children are enjoying it. Many have gifted the book to their friends – who practice other religions – and they are loving it too. It’s always humbling to hear stories about how something you have created with so much love is being received by others in the same spirit.
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about the illustrations?
Since I intended the text of the book to be limited in scope, my goal with the illustrations was to produce the most beautiful and ludic images I could create. Truly an ode of love to the metaphors written by Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha. I wanted to honor Them and Their Teachings about the oneness of humanity.
Baha’i Blog: What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on multiple projects. I’m especially excited about a couple of books about the life of Abdu’l-Baha in honor of the centenary of His Ascension.
You may also wish to check out Melissa’s shop on Etsy, where you can find decorations and children’s activities for Baha’i holy days. Her website, delighted-hearts.com, is also resource-rich and definitely worth visiting!
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.