I have no idea how many books I have in my house. There must be thousands, and they’re crammed everywhere: in the bookshelves of course, sometimes two deep, stacked in the bedrooms by beds and tables, on the top of the tank in the bathroom, and of course down the basement. I’ve read most of them, and many of them several times. Books are, of course, necessary to my happiness. Stories can entertain, explain life, take a person away from harsh reality for awhile, reinforce truths, and do so many other things. For me, life without books is hard to imagine, and such a life would be the stuff of nightmares. I remember once going on a trip and staying a couple of days with a friend of the family. Emma was a very sweet lady, but when she went to work and I was left at her house to entertain myself, I was shocked and worried and bored because there were absolutely no books in the house, not one! Those were very difficult days for me. Television just doesn’t satisfy like a book.
The reason I bring this up is because there are many, many children who have no books in their homes, and very little access to books. From the Reading Is Fundamental website (http://www.rif.org/us/about/literacy-issues.htm) I found this sad and startling statistic: “Two-thirds of America’s children living in poverty have no books at home, and the number of families living in poverty is on the rise. Many public and school libraries are being forced to close or reduce their operating hours. Children who do not have access to books and do not read regularly are among the most vulnerable Americans.”
So what can we do to make sure that children have books and know they are relevant to life? I can think of several ways, and have actually tried most of them. Here is my list:
1. Go through all the kids’ old books and give away the ones they’ll never read again.
2. Make a Little Free Library in the front yard or somewhere else around town where people can take a book and leave a book.
3. Donate old books to the public library to give away to children.
4. Sign up to be a World Book Night giver. Here’s the link: http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/
5. Volunteer at the public library or at an elementary school to help with literacy.
6. Organize a book group with the neighborhood children.
7. Always have a book going yourself.
8. Always, always, always talk about books and other real things with people.
9. Read aloud to your own children or the kids in the neighborhood.
10. Make friends with the children in your world and encourage them to read.
The list could go on and on, and I just stopped because I reached ten and that seemed like a good number. The main thing is, we all need stories in our lives. Maybe some people get enough stories through the television or Netflix, but I know it is vital to my happiness to be able to read, and then to discuss what I read with people I love. And one thing I’ve learned in life is that I am not so different from other people, so if I need stories and people to share them with, so do others. So, let’s make sure the children in our lives have books to read and talk about. Are there some obvious things I left off of my list? Please share your ideas as well!