Hub students’ letters grace book

By L. Finch
Globe Correspondent / November 30, 2010

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Adults aren’t the only ones with ideas on how to improve America.

Earlier this fall, 826 National, a San Francisco nonprofit that tutors students in expository and creative writing, invited students from around the country, including Boston, to write to Michelle Obama.

The letters were then collected in a book, “I Live Real Close to Where You Used to Live: Kids’ Letters to Michelle Obama (and to Sasha, Malia, and Bo).’’ The book is set to be released nationwide on Dec. 15.

From relevant observations about serious issues facing their communities and their country, to silly remarks on everything from pickles to a rabbit named Bird, the letters offer a glimpse of the modern world through a child’s eyes.

Robots could help keep drugs off the streets, computer companies should give away free laptops to students, and people should be peaceful together, instead of fighting wars, some children in Boston suggested in their letters.

“I think that you should shut down cigarette and liquor companies and try to keep drugs off the streets,’’ Aidan Sheill-Loomis, 9, and Nicolas W. Brooke, 10, both of Boston, wrote to Obama. “Robots may be able to help you.’’

Some letters included long lists of requests for Obama to “do something about.’’

“We want you to help the old people,’’ Sumaya Ismail, 8, and Aisha Mahamud, 8, both of Boston wrote. “We want the old people to go to hospitals and not pay for it because they don’t have a lot of money and they are sick. In the schools we want you to help to prevent bullies. We should have more school supplies. Also, we want the bathrooms to be fixed because the conditions are pretty bad.’’

Others contained heartfelt pleas for President Obama’s wife to campaign against littering; to clothe, feed, and house the homeless, to help the animals in the Gulf ;f Mexico affected by the oil spill; and to embolden the Afghan military.

“Could you come up to Boston to visit the schools to see what the children need?,’’ Zavier Williams, 9, wrote. “In my school we need more gym classes for exercise. Also, what is your favorite animal? My favorite animals are zebras, parrots, and tarantulas.’’

And a few were simple, with one addressed not to Mrs. Obama but to her family’s Portuguese water dog, Bo. “Dear Bo,’’ wrote Ofeiba Allen-Harding, 6, of Boston. “Are you hungry?’’

L. Finch can be reached at