I was the “stupid” kid—younger than my peers, slower to develop, and awkwardly shy. While my friends shared laughter and camaraderie as members of the “Purple People Eaters,” (a coveted grade school reading group), I was a “Fish.” That meant I had to visit The Big Top each week, a cloyingly bright and bubbly remedial room.
I hated the stigma of attending The Big Top. But I loved the magic held inside: books—dozens and dozens of big, beautiful picture books. The words intrigued me, the illustrations inspired. I dreamed of becoming a great artist one day, a great explorer, or a great spy. But mostly I dreamed. And that is the point: these books shaped my aspirations and my values.
The Giving Tree, Harry the Dirty Dog, The Little Engine that Could, Curious George, The Goops, Harriet the Spy, Bread and Jam for Francis, The Ugly Duckling, Homer Price, and The Story About Ping—I cherished them all. They showed me something bigger. They inspired me to something more. I believed in them. I followed their guidance.
I’m not the stupid kid anymore. How I got to this point is entirely one of education. My perspective is deep and broad. My skills in observation and empathy high. I’m creative. And, at times, boldly inventive. I have confidence to shoot for the stars, humility when I reach them, and chutzpah to pick myself back up again when I don’t. I reflect. I persevere. I solve problems. Including my own.
My early books set the foundation for a love of reading and a life of learning. They were a critical part of my development as were the weekly library visits with my mother and sister, and the outrageously silly stories told by my father.
EDUCATION HAS THE POWER TO TRANSFORM A LIFE
It did mine. But a good education eludes many people. The starting point? Learning to read.
- 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.
- 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.
- Those who don’t read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school.
- Teenage girls between the ages of 16 to 19 who live at or below the poverty line and have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to have children out of wedlock than girls their age who can read proficiently.
- As of 2011, America was the only free-market OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) country where the current generation was less educated than the previous one.
THE PROBLEM CAN BE SOLVED
The social problems of illiteracy affect every one of us, but these are problems we can solve.
That’s why we do all we can to get books in the hands of at-risk children and families. And that’s why we go the extra mile to get deep into local communities with exceptionally inventive, joyful programming that inspires a love of reading and ignites a spark for learning.
“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” ~ Malala Yousafzai
OUR BENEFICIARIES INCLUDE: