“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” –Marcus Tullius Cicero
Recently, I was trying to organize my little boy’s books, which were so tightly crammed onto the shelves that grabbing one became a dangerous game of dominoes. After pulling each one out, I sat surrounded by the stacks trying to make the painful choice of which to keep and which to box. My decision was made more difficult by my inability to part with any one of them.
I couldn’t pack away “Cars and Trucks and Things that Go”; it’s his favorite. I couldn’t part with “Love you Forever”; it’s my favorite. And “Winnie-the -Pooh”, well it’s a bedtime ritual.
Do you remember your favorite childhood books? Do remember why you loved them so much? I adored the Clifford books and all books Dr. Seuss. “The Velveteen Rabbit” made me understand real love and Pooh Bear taught me the meaning of friendship. But always being blessed with beautiful books made it too easy for me to forget that there are children who don’t own a single book. Their shelves sit empty.
Poverty causes many kinds of hunger, including the hunger for knowledge, information, and adventure; a hunger that only good books can satiate. Books, especially for children, do more than entertain. Good stories teach, provide companionship, offer comfort and open doors to the unimagined; good stories broaden a child’s world.
So what happens when a child doesn’t own any books even one? What happens when a child doesn’t know the comfort of a bedtime story, the pleasure of a funny tale, the joy of a good adventure, or the love of well worn, often read book? What happens is their world becomes smaller and so does our because of it.
Thankfully, there are those who work hard to open the doors and broaden children’s worlds with books. One such person is Elizabeth Curran or as she is affectionately known, “the lady with the little books”. Curran is a teacher at Richards Elementary School in Newport, N.H. who has created more than 200 beginner-reading books. Truly inspiring is that she writes and photo-illustrates a book a week using her students as motivation for her simple, funny themes. Each book is handcrafted with scissors and staples and given away for free.
Curran’s kindness teaches us two lessons. The first is that reading is fundamental to all learning. If a child is illiterate then she can’t read about history, government or science. Reading helps eradicate ignorance and provides knowledge, which is power. Power to become a doctor, a lawyer, a social worker, or the president. Secondly, Curran’s prolific creation of books demonstrates that a good story doesn’t have to have a big name publisher, rank as a bestseller, gross thousands of dollars or sit on the shelves of every bookstore. A good book teaches, enlightens, comforts, entertains, and changes a life.
So the next time you gently cradle your child’s beloved bedtime story, slightly torn on several pages, which are soft from many turnings consider those children who have never known that love. Every child deserves the pleasure and pride of owning their own book. So please consider donating books. I have compiled a list below of a few charities that take donations and appreciate each one. Because remember when you fill a bookshelf, you fill a life and everyone becomes better because of it.
Causes Sherry Parnell Supports
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, Heifer International