Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Best Thing Ever

To say I love to read is such an understatement. Books, stories, literature, have been my way into the world.  I honestly don't know who I would have become without the books in my life.  Possibly something not so good, because the written word has been such an outlet for me.  There's a great passage in Maria Semple's latest novel, Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" where the protagonist is advised to continue with her creative pursuits, because if she doesn't she's likely to become a menace to society.


My love/passion/need for books informed my parenting. I held picture books before my newborn's still-unfocused eyes, before he had the strength to hold his own head upright.  It was a big, big moment in our home when we were reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to him for the millionth time and asked him to point to the picture of the moon and he actually raised his chubby infant finger and planted it on the round, gold orb on the page. (His sister insists this was merely a coincidence and we have been over-praising his minor achievements for far too long, but that's a blog post for another day ... )  The best moments of my life have been spent with my childrens' warm bodies tucked in close to me while we read together.

So the notion of a child without a book pains me, literally.  The idea that a child might never know the joy of owning his or her personal book is so sad.  The excitement I see on childrens' faces when they hold their own books is deeply moving.

This week, two special authors have brought my attention to efforts to bring books and children together.  This is great work, this is life-changing, and I share it with you here.  Pass it on, support them if you can:

Middle-grade author, Donna Gephart (her most recent book is Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen) recently participated in the "Kids in Need - Books in Deed" program, which purchases books for children and brings writers into their schools. What a gift: not only to have one of Donna's laugh-out-loud books in hand, but to actually meet her!

Another middle-grade author, Lynda Mullaly Hunt (author of One for the Murphys) identified, while she was researching her novel, that foster kids often never own their own books.  She's created a website which brings new books and social workers together, so that the social workers can choose books for their clients and give them out ... free to the kids. It's called the Book Train, and is just "leaving the station," so to speak.

In future posts here, I'll share with you the books I'm donating to Book Train.  This week, I'm mailing off a new copy of the Newbery winner, The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate.  In case you haven't read it yet, it's a beautiful story.

I like to imagine some child snuggling into bed with it ...

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