Saturday, April 18, 2009

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream

Sadly, too many sports stars today are not proper role models for young people. Fortunately, there are still some that can be held up as good examples. One of those sports stars is Michael Jordan.

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream
, written by Deloris Jordan (Michael's mother) with Roslyn M. Jordan (Michael's sister) and illustrated by Kadir Nelson tells the story of a young Michael. It is recommended for children age 4 to 8.

"Michael loved to play basketball." He likes to go with his older brothers in hopes of getting to play on their team if one of the regular guys wasn't able to play. But, Michael had a hard time against the bigger boys on the other team, especially Mark, who would taunt Michael about not being tall enough. Mark blocked the ball when Michael attempted to pass it to one of his brothers.

Michael blames himself for losing the game and apologizes to his brothers: "If I were taller that wouldn't have happened." His brothers tell him he played well, and to not worry about it. However, Michael is still bother by it. His mother talks to him, and he asks how he can become taller:

Now, Mama knew the answer to a lot of questions, but this was a tough one. She thought for a moment as she sprinkled salt and pepper on the chicken she was making for dinner. Then she smiled, looked at Michael, and said, "Salt."

"Salt?" Michael looked at his mama.

"Salt in your shoes. We'll put salt in your shoes and say a prayer every night. Before you know it, you'll be taller!" she replied.

"Salt in my shoes?" Michael said quietly to himself. Surely Mama was teasing. He sat staring out of the window trying to figure out how salt was going to help him grow.

He noticed the rose bushes outside in Mama's garden. They had grown high along the fence, and roses of all colors were blooming on the vines. He thought to himself, I remember when Mama first planted those bushes. Michael's face lit up. If Mama knows how to make those rose bushes grow taller, then maybe she's right. Maybe salt in my shoes really will help me grow.
He wanted to know how long it would take. Mama tells him to be patient and to say his prayers every night. He asks what his prayers have to do with it. "Everything."

Michael wanted to be taller before going to play basketball again, but he took that time to practice. But, after 2 months, he discovered he wasn't any taller. Mama asks Daddy to go talk to him:

"Michael, why do you want to be taller?" Daddy asked.

"If I were taller I'd be a great player, and I could help our team win," Michael answered.

"But you are a great player, son. And you already have everything it takes to be a winner, right in here." Daddy tapped Michael on his chest. "Being taller may help you play a little better, but not as much as practice, determination, and giving your best will. Those are things that make you a real winner."
Michael decides to go to the park to play. The game had already started, but he got his chance when one of the players on his team got hurt. Michael volunteers to score the one point they'll need to win the game.

Mark was there, and he was again giving Michael a hard time, but Michael didn't let it bother him this time. The game continues, and Michael gets past Mark and makes the winning basket!

After that day, Mama stopped putting salt in Michael's shoes, but Michael didn't stop being patient and working hard and praying.

I just think this is a wonderful story. It is a portrait of a real American family who has a deep faith in God, and it teaches a good lesson: be patient, but also work hard and practice!

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