An abundance of books is something I take for granted. Everything I write here and at The Lilting House is shaped by my family’s immersion in literature. "Living the living-books lifestyle," I call it, and it’s true: our days, our experiences, our understanding, everything we do is influenced and in many ways made possible by Really Good Books. I put the best literature in my children’s paths, and they read and learn; it really is as simple as that.
Not all children are so fortunate. I may have to choose between books and nice furniture, but for some families there’s no choice at all. Books or food? That one’s a no-brainer. And schools don’t always have the budget to fill the void.
My good friends Julianna Baggott (aka N. E. Bode) and David Scott are keenly aware of this void in Florida, where they live and write with their three children. Here’s what they are doing to fill the void. Julianna writes:
I’ve recently started a new nonprofit, Kids in Need–Books in Deed, that brings free books and free
author visits to Kids in Need in the state of Florida. In addition to
private funding, schools across the country that hope to inspire generosity and service in their students can sign up to sponsor a Write-A-Thon and the money raised will bring free books and authors to kids who need them most. In this way, one child’s imagination fuels another’s education.
KIDS IN NEED—BOOKS IN DEED IS COMMITTED TO:
1. Promoting reading and writing—education and the imagination.
When children create a character, they are learning empathy. When they are plotting a story, they are learning strategic thought. When they are inventing what might happen next, they are developing their imaginations. When they are putting one word in front of
the next, they are understanding, deeply, their language and finding their own voice. Reading and writing expand our worlds.
2. Getting free books into the homes of underprivileged kids. Having books in the home is a primary indicator of literacy. (For some of these students, this will
be the first book they’ve ever owned. The fact that it is inscribed to them and signed by the author makes it all the more personal and valued.)
3. Bringing living and breathing
authors to kids. Books are not born from bookshelves. Writers use words to invent worlds. We want to create that magical moment when the writer brings the book to life, breaking down the wall between author and reader. Having authors talk to students about their childhoods, their creative processes, their imaginations,
allows students to understand that they, too, have a voice and
that there is value and power in writing down their own stories.
4. Promoting community service.
Students participating in the Write-A-Thon know that their imaginative efforts are going to a good cause. The web site spotlights the
Kids in Need that the books and authors are going to. With statistics alongside pictures alongside personal anecdotes, we hope that Write-A-Thon
students can get a real sense of the kids they’re helping and a real sense of purpose. We hope that kids receiving free
books and author visits are inspired in this process by a greater
sense of community that reaches beyond the boundaries of their neighborhoods and schoolyards. They, too, will have the opportunity
to be generous by using their imaginative power writing stories
to ensure author visits for the future students of their school
and to build up their school library.
Participating authors include Lisa McCourt, David Kirby, Sherry North, Mary Beth Lundgren, Adrian Fogelin, Paul Shepherd, Gaby Triana, and Joyce Sweeney.
So Bonny Glen readers, let’s spread the word. If your kids are in school, share the Write-a-Thon information with their teachers. If you are homeschoolers, consider organizing a Write-a-Thon among your friends or support groups. Let’s get some good books into the hands of kids who need them.
And if you decide to participate, please do let me know. I’ll want to shout your names from the blogtops!
Picture Book Spotlight: Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge