From an early age, books and stories of all kinds have been an important part of my life. I remember walking hand in hand with my mom to the children’s section of our small, public library where we would scan the shelves for Cam Jansen chapter books to see if we could find any I hadn’t read. I used to pick out stories to read with mom or dad before bed — my dad would later build bookcases to hold my growing collection.
I have hundreds of memories like these.
My love of books has been a constant in my life — a love my parents and teachers fostered from an early age and one that grew as I did. I still have a treasured copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets my sister gave me before I could even begin to decipher the meaning behind the poems; a first edition of Empire Falls from my partner who shares a similar affinity for catching a glimpse into small-town life; The Road Less Traveled gifted to me in my senior year of high school by one of many teachers who played a pivotal role in the path I would take. Throughout my life, family, friends, teachers, mentors, and co-workers have all added to this collection.
For those of us fortunate enough to have access to books through our local libraries, neighborhood book lending boxes, and bookstores, it’s easy to take for granted that we have thousands of stories at our fingertips. The fact that not everyone has the same resources we do underscores the very importance of ensuring we give to others when we’re able. There are many places throughout the world where book collections are scarce and access to reading material for both adults and children is limited. Some have no access to books at all.
This is one of the many reasons why International Book Giving Day is such a wonderful opportunity. Book lovers of all ages can express their gratitude for the ways books have shaped their lives and help support the next generation of bookworms. Since 2012, this special day has been an annual celebration and it is now observed in more than 40 different countries worldwide. The decision to celebrate it on Valentine’s Day is very apropos as books are truly a lifelong love for many of us!
If you’d like to join in, there are many ways to get involved in addition to sharing your favorite stories with loved ones. Certain charities and public libraries accept books in gently used or new condition, and there are many nonprofits whose sole mission is to provide kids with better access to books. Kids Need to Read accepts new or like-new donations and Books for Kids allows you to select and purchase books via an Amazon Wishlist. The organization Room to Read partners with communities to invest in children’s education and support girls in reaching their full potential.
However you choose to take part, gifting a book has the potential to have a lifelong impact on someone.
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