Fill A Bookshelf; Fill A Life

emzxdosijj4-ben-white1“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” –Marcus Tullius Cicero

A few days ago, I decided to organize my little boy’s books. They were so tightly crammed onto the shelves that grabbing even a few became a dangerous game of dominoes. After pulling out each one, I sat surrounded by several stacks of books. Carefully, I considered each one as I tried to decide 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” had to stay—it’s a bedtime ritual.

Do you remember your favorite childhood books? I adored the Clifford books and all books Dr. Seuss.

Do you remember why you loved your books so much? For me, the beautiful illustrations and the words that wrapped around them were transportative. I never needed to leave my room to have an adventure, rule a kingdom, or chase a rabbit down a hole. And from my books, I learned. I learned about real love from “The Velveteen Rabbit” and the meaning of real friendship from “Winnie-The-Pooh.”

Being blessed with an abundance of beautiful books make it easy for me to forget that there are children who don’t own a single book—their shelves sit empty. Without stories, they have no adventures, no lessons of true love, and no pleasure taken in reading a book all one’s own.

Poverty causes many kinds of hunger, including the hunger for knowledge, information, and discovery. It’s 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? What happens when he doesn’t know the comfort of a bedtime story, the pleasure of a good adventure, the love of a well worn, often read book?

What happens is their world becomes smaller and so does our because of it.

That is why as writers and readers we must open the doors and broaden children’s worlds with books.

We must do this because reading is fundamental to all learning. If a child is illiterate then he can’t read about history, government, or science. Doors close. Reading, however, eradicates ignorance and provides knowledge, which is power. Power to become a doctor, a lawyer, a social worker, or the president.

We must also do this because a good book, regardless of the publisher or dollars it grosses, teaches, enlightens, comforts, entertains, and changes a life.

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.

Remember when you fill a bookshelf, you fill a life and everyone becomes better because of it.

http://www.betterworldbooks.com/

http://www.madisonreadingproject.com/donate

www.shelteringbooks.org/

www.salvationarmyusa.org/

http://www.goodwill.org/

Thank you for reading. I look forward to your comments.

4 thoughts on “Fill A Bookshelf; Fill A Life

  1. My friend, Barbara Boustead just forwarded this to me. I love your message. I started a nonprofit three years ago to address the issues you just mentioned. Children in povery who do not own their own books. Our nonprofit gives books to vulnerable kids across SW Wisconsin by partnering with multiple schools, shelters, community organizations and social workers. We love to have children pick out their own books and they are always to keep. You can see more of what we do here: madisonreadingproject.org THANK YOU!

    1. Thank you for reading and sharing, Rowan. I have checked out your site and it is wonderful what you are doing!I have added your information to my post so please feel free to share it to get out the word. All children should know the pleasure of their own book and the worlds that are opened by reading. I am working to complete my second novel, which takes place in the Appalachian Mountains (never specifically named, however) and it is my intention to have a portion of the proceeds of the sales go to book donations for children. Perhaps I could contact you in the future to see if there is interest in your organization.

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About Sherry Parnell