In Eric Weiner’s book, The Geography of Genius, after going over several environmental and societal factors that contribute to commonly accepted geniuses, all of which are male, the author makes this interesting observation:

“The Romans had a saying: ‘libri aut liberi,’ books or children.  For most of history, that was a choice women were not permitted to make.”

The latin aut here means either, or.  Women, then, can either choose to bear and raise children or they can choose to gain an education, but they can’t choose both.

Today, women are blessed that they can choose to make books, or education a priority in their lives.  My personal life’s happiness has been greatly enhanced because of women who chose books, women who chose to become doctors, teachers, nurses, speech therapists and authors. Their efforts are worthy of praise and high esteem:  Meritorious.



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My life has also been greatly enhanced by women who chose children. Women who made the time to be interested in and help the children around them whatever their capacity in life.  Of course, chief among these is my own mother, who is certainly deserving of my praise and high esteem.  Because she chose to be interested in, love, teach and encourage me, my life has been greatly impacted for the better.  Her efforts not only bless me, but also my husband, my children and my own small circle of influence.  


If it must come right down to it, Choosing children over books, is not a lesser choice, it is one of the highest and holiest callings in life and women who have made this choice are deserving of our praise and high esteem.  They truly have made a difference in the world, even rivaling the so-called geniuses.


As I have tried to follow in the example of these great women in my life, to make a difference in the lives of the children around me.  I have been frequently humbled by the magnitude of the task and  have been led again and again in my desperate, urgent searchings…to books.  


In choosing books and children, I have gained ideas about how to help those children in the typical sense:  sleep through the night, manage their emotions, and better understand their personal sense of self.  But I have also learned a greater respect for other cultures, the power of hope and forgiveness, and a greater sense of my own life’s purpose, all of which I have tried to pass onto my children.  


Choosing books over children seems, for me,  an illogical one.  I am not choosing books over children, I am choosing books for children.  


I am not here, making a case for working moms or stay-at-home moms.  The choice to do either is a complicated decision, rife with many variables that I couldn’t possibly make a superficial assessment about here.  What I am saying is that education is powerful and can change the world and that being interested in, loving, teaching and encouraging the children around you is also powerful and can change the world.  


In today’s world, we have so many opportunities available to us, to learn and become better each day.  For many, definitely not all, but probably most women in my audience, there is no longer that pesky aut problem, we can choose children and we can choose books and thereby increase our capacity to do good.  


Some ways to choose children and books:


1-Discover and read good books.

2-Learn about or develop a hobby.  Figure out a way to make the necessary time needed for your hobby, you could trade with a friend, talk to your hubby or wake up or go to bed a little earlier/later.

3-Listen to podcasts that increase your knowledge about something that’s important or interesting to you.

4-Ask questions and really listen to those around you.

5-Read daily from scriptures or another inspirational text.

6-Join a group ( a mother’s group, PTA, running group or other volunteer organization).

7-Read news and/or listen to talk radio.

8-Keep a journal, write about your life’s observations, your favorite quotes or thoughts from those around you.

9-Take a class.  There are many options available; online and community education classes through the high schools are two avenues that have worked well for me.

10-Think of something you would like to learn about, it doesn’t have to be related to motherhood, and figure out a way to learn about it.  Maybe you could ask a friend, watch Youtube videos or experiment on your own.


I am not perfect at it, but as I have found ways to pick books and children and been careful about not choosing books over children, I have found my own life has been enhanced, but also that of my children.

Libri et liberi, or books and children, for my own happiness and the betterment of the world around me.

Write it down in a journal, talk it over with a friend or leave a comment below or on Facebook.