Feeling like the world is out of control these days, I’m periodically reflecting on books that temporarily shift my perspective to new places of imagination, possibility, humor and resolutions for human conundrums. One of my earliest memories of escaping into other worlds as a child, was reading and laughing by myself with Dr. Seuss. Since those early days of experiencing the transporting joy of reading, finding friends in authors I’d never meet, I’ve joined readers around the world delighting in written expression and exploring endless possibilities.
Through the years, I’ve happily discovered and rediscovered classics including Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Dickens’ Bleak House, Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Shelly’s Frankenstein, visiting other lives and times, with meanings that shift as I change during stages of life, especially du Maurier’s Rebecca and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Looking for wisdom, and finding it, along with eloquence and humility, in Aurelius’ Meditations speaking from 161 AD. “Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.”
Sharing the love of books with my children, we explored worlds of imagination and archeology, dinosaurs and space travel, foreign lands and different traditions.
It recently came to my attention that there are many children in our area who do not have access to books and libraries. Perhaps this will be news to you also. A local organization, WEPAC (West Philadelphia Alliance for Children), in the past one year, reopened 13 libraries in underserved communities including circulating 47,000 books with 75 trained volunteers providing staffing. This supports literacy enrichment to children in schools that lost their librarians due to budget cuts.
Another group in Ambler, Reading Recycled strives to eliminate children growing up without books in their homes. Reading Recycled gives new and gently used books to families, shelters, schools, laundromats and pantries—any place a child may want to read.
The Philly Book Bank, run by Reading Recycled Philly Book helps teachers and the community get books and resources for the children they serve. Educators can get up to 400 books per school year, as well as supplemental classroom supplies.
I’m on the lookout to discover books this fall and revisit older ones, travelling without leaving home. This time though, after they’re read, they’ll be donated in good condition to local organizations so others can be transported too.