As many people know, I love to read. When I was a toddler, my mother would sit with me in our sunroom every day and read to me. I always had a lot of books in my room and would look through them often. I just couldn’t wait to learn how to read and when I did, I didn’t stop. Reading always gave me something to do – especially if there was no one around to play with. Even chicken pox was easier to take with my father’s Mutt & Jeff and Archie comic books to read.
Now, I never leave home without a book. During the last three years my goal has been to read at least 100 books a year and I have done so every year. I read a little bit of everything – fiction, young adult, psychology, biographies. I’ve found that even a fiction book can teach you something you didn’t know.
Reading has also given me a chance to reach out and make new friends. I’m a huge Stephen King fan and over 20 years ago started an online club to connect with others that liked his stories too. I’ve made friends all over the world through my love of reading and have traveled to Ohio, Maine and Illinois because of the connections I’ve made. Also, I’ve met Stephen King twice!
So, of course, my United Way contributions deal with literacy.
My first is The Free Library of Philadelphia. I’m there once a week, picking up and dropping off my latest selections. There’s also a bevy of services that our library offers. My daughter and I just applied for our passports at our local location which is just a few blocks from home. So convenient!
My next charity is First Book of Philadelphia. This is a charity that helps provide new books for children in need. In households where money for food and shelter is hard enough to come by, this organization gives books to children to help combat illiteracy and engage their imaginations.
The third charity is Children’s Literacy Initiative. This program helps make sure disadvantaged children are able to read at the levels they should so that no child falls behind. Fighting illiteracy gives these children a fighting chance to thrive in life. Children who read well have a better chance of graduating high school and attending college. Smart kids become smart adults!
As I tell my daughter – reading is so important. Every subject requires it and it’s something you use every day. Think about how much you have to read in a single day – instructions, emails, forms, recipes, news articles. Now imagine that you can’t read. Think about how much harder the simplest things would be.
I would ask that if you’re unsure of where to give, consider something to do with literacy. There are many local programs out there to consider. Children are our future and giving them the tools to succeed are so important. Thank you for listening!