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Grandma Book World: A grandmother inspiring kids

Posted at 11:48 AM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 12:48:25-05

Raejean Kanter's Facebook page is called "Grandma Book World."

Kanter loves to share the joy of reading with kids. That's why she chose to write children's books.

She shares, "It started off very simple. When my oldest granddaughter, who is now 16, was two years old and learning her language, she would stand in the window when she knew I was coming because she knew I brought a big bag of books and sheets down there and call 'Grandma, grandma!' The minute the car pulled up, she's got a book. I became 'Grandma Book!'"

Her books have a common theme: teaching kids about other countries and cultures.

Kanter noticed a void when her six-year-old granddaughter was about to take a trip overseas and Cantor was looking for a kid's book on India.

"I went to the bookstore, and they said, 'Oh, we don't have anything like that, we have a Dora the Explorer, but nothing really, you know, concentrating on countries or cultures for children at all.' OK, time to get started."

That's when she started writing kids' books. Her first book was on Vietnam.

Kanter has a master's degree in education. She has always enjoyed reading to kids. An avid traveler, she adores learning about foreign cultures.

So, why doesn't this 74-year-old just choose total retirement?

"Because I like my sanity. She laughs. This really keeps me busy, and it keeps my mind busy, and it keeps me giving back to other people."

Kanter, a widow, is also engaged. How did she meet a compatible partner?

"Through a dating service," Kanter adds. "I met CJ. We started to do just casual kind of dating, as we did more of that, we learn more about each other and started to travel. We have virtually traveled around the world together."

"I feel like a princess, a lot of times because he does take good care of me, you know it's like I do the cooking. After I get done cooking and we eat, I don't pick up a dish. Because if I try to heal God, I can do that very intelligent, very fun to be with just a wonderful person, so I'm so happy that he's in my life."

The two had to cancel their wedding last year because of the pandemic. Now, they plan to walk down the aisle this year, and to take this step is a gift.

Kanter recently marked a crucial milestone.

"I am a 37-year breast cancer survivor. And this Dec. 2 was very important because I'm 74. So that means half my life has been led as a cancer survivor."

That makes her even more determined to give kids a wider view of the world.

"We would like to expose children to international cultures, for them to understand inclusively better. This is our way of saying yes, racism exists, and people are different. But let's look at how we're the same."

Through her book, "A Wish for a Christmas Dress," Kanter started a drive to donate clothes to kids in Africa.

"This one is a very special book because this is where my heart is in philanthropy. Through this book, we have been able to send out 1,500 pieces of children's clothing, mostly dresses to Africa, over the last three years."

She recalls what a woman from Zimbabwe had to say about her mission.

"She made me promise never to stop the dress drive she said, 'What you're doing about these kids' self-esteem is more than anybody can even imagine.' She said 'It's how I got out of Africa because I got a little box from the US.' And I thought, if somebody cares enough about me, I can care."

Raejean Kanter has done a lot in her life. She ran the Potawatomi Foundation, worked for the Department of Instruction, headed up the March of Dimes, and was an executive director for Community Health Services and a youth minister.

She's been promoting the value of learning all her life.

Through Raejean Kanter, we see a grandmother inspiring kids while helping international neighbors. She prompts us to remember, it's never too late to open a new chapter.

"My goal now is to keep my eyes open for what God is calling me to do right now. Because all of this came about because a little Polish girl from the south side was given a lot of gifts by God, and gave her the wisdom to know he was giving them."

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