My school had parent teacher conferences last night. It is so fantastic to speak with parents who care deeply for their child and their education. However, one parent said something that is perhaps the most striking and honest comment a parent has ever said to me. In speaking of her daughter's love of reading and her battle to keep her daughter focused on school she said this, "It's a shame that in my neighborhood it's easier for my daughter to get a gun than a book. She can walk to any corner and get a gun, but the library is so far away and not even open when we need it to be."
Some of my students come from pretty rough-and-tumble neighborhoods. I know what this mother said is true, and it breaks my heart even more for knowing it to be true. It is one thing to sit in my home, surrounded by books and write about reading to a child, and creating a family of bookworms, when I know I live someplace where it is easier to get a book than a gun. But, it is quite another to know that for many families the truth is that it is easier to get a gun than a book. The issues involved with this problem are varied and complex and a real and lasting solution will not be easy to come by. However, with the holiday season approaching, there are ways that we can help, at least in the short term. Please consider donating new or used books to organizations that help put books into the hands of underprivileged kids. Many organizations collect toys and gifts for children. My husband and I always donate toys, but this year, I am going to make an effort to include a book or to with the toys that we donate. It will be my small way of making it easier for one family to get a book than a gun.