For those of you who know me well, you know that I’m not the kind of person who sits down and reads long books for pleasure.
I enjoy keeping up with the latest business and political news online and in magazine form, but I’ve never seemed to have the attention span for books. I get bored easily.
Often when my wife wants to me to read something she’ll give up waiting on me to do it on my own and just read it to me.
But all of this to say, I still value the importance of a good book. There have been books I remember from my childhood that shaped my becoming when I was in school such as the Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein or made me laugh like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett.
I never remember a time in my education when books weren’t a part of my classroom experience. Or even as I studied in college and graduate school, a time when I couldn’t afford the necessary materials to read the assigned texts (thank goodness for student loans!)
But for many of the children we serve in our Feed The Children programs around the world, books are a rare and special gift. Classroom walls in the developing country aren’t lined with bookshelves. Often if students have books they are tattered, torn and can not leave the school grounds.
In May, while on a site visit to a Mayan community in Guatemala, our team gave each child in our program a new book from our friends at Disney. It was a joy to watch the light come into the eyes of the kids, many of whom had not ever had a book at all to call their own much less NEW!
Then, just this week in the middle of the city in Nashville, TN, I attended a student motivational assembly at Buena Vista Elementary with our partner agency, United 4 Hope. To strengthen the work of this school’s reading and mentoring program, FTC distributed books to 4th grade students. Many of these kids never owned a book of their own either.
I watched as teachers gave students a permanent marker to write their name inside their two books and squeals of excitement came from all around. I even had the opportunity to read to a group of girls a chapter. The way these girls carried their books showed their pride.
While it is important to feed hungry children food– which is what most people associate with FTC– I am seeing more and more that education is an important counterpart. We must feed the minds as well . . . one book at a time.