A few days ago, I received a lovely gift when my friend Lisa passed on to me an adorable postcard. It’s an old photo of six little girls sitting in a row on the steps of an old house, each with an open book in her lap. The photo, aptly titled “Reading Lesson,” was taken in Oregon in 1939 by the wonderful photographer Dorothea Lange. It’s so inspiring to me as I work on my children’s novel! And here’s good news we can all take heart from: Almost 80 years later, kids still care about books. Two sweet stories:
Sweet Story #1: A devoted mother with two young daughters was struggling to raise them. Times were hard and she couldn’t always afford to heat their home, so it was often cold when her girls came home from school. To keep them warm, she would take them to the local library. Surrounded by books, one of her daughters fell in love with them and became an avid reader. Recently, the mother was beyond excited because she was flying to England to see her daughter graduate from the London School of Economics. Reading has given them both a bright future.
Sweet Story #2: When a group of third graders at a Florida elementary school learned that a local Barnes & Noble was going to close, they wrote a letter to its CEO pleading with him not to close the store. As reported on local AP news, the letter was written “in colorful penmanship” on poster-sized paper and read in part: “We recently learned that Barnes & Noble had lost its lease on your Daytona Beach store. We are very sorry to hear that and very upset that we won’t be able to visit and shop and browse and learn new things. Some of us love your sale items (using math). Some like to study there and also eat there…. Please don’t leave us without our favorite book store!… P.S. If you come, we will take you to the beach with us and teach you how to surf!”
The letter struck a chord and B&N decided to renew the store’s lease for another year. Shaina Belsky’s, the teacher whose third grade class had sent the letter, said she hoped to show her students they can make a difference by converting ideas to action: “They just have to try. They can make positive change for themselves and their community, and they just have to try.”
Kids and books: perfect together! Thanks, Lisa. Bravo, Ms. Belsky. Let’s remember the magic that books brought to our lives as kids, especially in this holiday season, as we all write on!