I was maybe five or six, sitting curled up on the orange shag carpet in our living room with a book, my pig tails falling in front of my eyes. My brow was furrowed, and, although I knew I shouldn't, I silently mouthed the words to myself as I read.
I stumbled my way through page after page, determined to make it through the whole book without asking my mommy for help. By the time I was done, I had a headache—maybe my first headache. But the intense feeling of triumph that zinged through my body as I turned the last page of Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss far outweighed the momentary pain in my head.
Suddenly, I was a Girl Who Could Read By Herself. A Reader.
And with that accomplishment, the doors to a whole new world opened in front of me. A world where it didn't matter if I wore glasses, or was clumsy, or couldn't catch a ball to save my life. Because in the world of books? I could be anyone and do anything I wanted.
From that day forward, the library became my toy store—only better, because my mom never set limits on the amount of books I could have. She only asked that I return them when I was done (which wasn't always an easy concept for me to grasp).
Over the years, I tore my way through all the usual suspects: Beatrix Potter, Beverly Cleary, Judy Bloom...I even went through a stage where I read every biography I could get my hands on.
Books were my salvation. They kept me company when I was lonely, reassured me when I felt out of place and took me on adventures to places far outside the narrow confines of my little suburban world.
In short, books helped to shape the person that I am today.
So, when I read that in low-income neighborhoods, more than 80 percent of all preschool and after-school programs don't have any age appropriate books, my jaw dropped. The same article said that in those neighborhoods, there's only one book—period—for every 300 kids. Compare that to the average of 13 books a middle-class kid has at his or her disposal.
That's just not right.
Fortunately, BlogHer is teaming up with BookRenter to help address the problem. From May 3-28, they're working with First Book to provide books to kids in need through Head Start. And you can help—without ever opening up your wallet.
Just head over to this post and leave a comment about a book that has impacted your life. When you do, they'll donate a book to Head Start. That's it. By writing two little sentences, you could help open the doors to a lifetime of reading for a child in need.
So go. Go now. Leave a comment. Then come back here and tell me you did. When you do, I'll make a $1 donation to First Book. Why? Because if the universe had dealt me a different hand and my child was the one who didn't have any books, I'd want someone to do the same for me.
What are you waiting for? Go.