I remember being pregnant with my first son. I remember stacks of books about being pregnant and producing children. I remember laughing and throwing one of those books, the title of which escapes me, into the trash can because it said something about newborn children being “blank slates” upon which their parents basically “wrote” their being. Wow. I somehow knew, just from the nature of the kicks to my breastbone, that the little presumed “chalkboard” in my belly was not going to go along with THAT program!
This was before I’d even taken a philosophy course and before I’d even heard the word “existentialism.” But I had the certain knowledge of what my own parents tried to “write” me into and knew I had rejected that completely. How and why did I reject their doubtless sincere, if self-serving, efforts? Because of BOOKS. Because I read from an early age – I read at 4th grade level in grade one. Because in a household full of horrific physical punishments, the worst punishment of all was not being allowed to check out library books for a whole year.
Books were where I escaped the cruel cloister of “family” life. Books made me forget cold and hunger. Books told me there were other ways to live, places to be. Books made me sure I could do more with my life. I’ve asked for books as presents more than any other object, I’ve given books away all my life. The ones pictured in this post are small remnant of books owned and re-homed elsewhere, or occasionally sold, in my lifetime. Books, to me, are WEALTH. And no, those photos are not even all of the books of the family. Not even half the books.
Reading is freedom seeking. Reading is hope in ink. So believe me when I say, I approve this message. A plan to GET books into the hands of children who live in the unimaginable horror of a “book desert”?! I am absolutely FOR that idea. Even at our poorest, in my childhood, there was a set of encyclopedia and a dozen other books in our home, until we lost it all when I was around age 13. Living in the wilds of frozen rural Idaho with no book in the house except the Book of Mormon, left by missionaries, was the most extreme deprivation I’d known.
Books are the building blocks of the mind. And the roadmaps to better futures. Books can be weapons against chaos. Give your children books. Give your adult friends books. Read books yourself. Challenge yourself!