The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
Age: 12 & up
Source: my copy
Publisher: Watermill Classics, 1994 (originally 1902
ISBN: 0893753688 / 152 pages
Find this book at your local library
Most people have first learned about Helen Keller when their elementary school teacher played The Miracle Worker one day in class. That was when I first learned about Helen Keller. Although, to be honest, I didn’t know much about her other than what was represented in the movie. I knew that although she was both deaf and blind, she learned how to use sign-language to communicate with people in her life.
Reading The Story of My Life was a very inspirational and eye-opening experience for me. Although its only a brief 152 pages, I really took my time with this book, trying to value and understand the struggles she went to educate herself. I was amazed to learn that in the course of her life, Helen Keller taught herself French, German and Latin. She even learned to use her vocal chords to speak and went to college at Radcliffe.
For all of her obstacles, to be so well accomplished is amazing and also shaming, I think, on today’s society. We have so much knowledge within a touch of a button, but who really strives to educate themselves anymore? How many people try to learn something new after the required four years of college. Often, when I would tell people that I get bored because of the free time I have due to working part-time, I hear a resounding chorus of “Find another job!” Granted, I already work 2 part-time jobs, so taking on a third just seems greedy. No one suggests learning just for the sake of learning. I’m bored because my friends all work during my off-days. I’m bored, because there is a missing stimuli in my life and I don’t have anyone with which to enjoy an intelligent conversation on those days.
This year, since coming back from Europe, I’ve really made an honest effort to learn French and I’m actually doing pretty OK (reading & writing at least. My accent en Francaise is just terrible). I can’t begin to tell you how many weird looks I get from all sorts of people when I tell them that I’m learning French for fun. The whole idea of “If it’s not for work, then what’s the point of learning” seems like the wrong motivation for education. If Helen Keller can learn to read and write in three languages, why shouldn’t I be able to accomplish something similar?
The Story of My Life is full of quotes and messages that I want to copy and paste onto every social media format that I’m a part of. They’ve all struck a chord with me, and I hope they would as well with others. One in particular really stayed with me:
I have learned many things I should never have known had I not tried the experiment. One of them is the precious science of patience, which teaches us that we should take our education as we take a walk in the country, leisurely, our minds hospitably open to impressions of every sort. Such knowledge floods the soul unseen with a soundless tidal wave of deepening thought.
This book is a great autobiography for kids doing reports, its great for adults who feel in a funk and need some motivation to accomplish a dream or goal that keeps getting postponed.