By Rachel Leon
As several parents at Dennis School met to plan the upcoming book fair, we came across a quote: “A kid without a new book is a crime.” We liked the idea behind it, if not the wording. We all agreed and discussed the importance of impoverished children owning books. Yes, there is the public library, which I am a strong advocate of, but the sad fact is that unless the library is located very close, the mere act of getting there is not feasible for many families living in poverty. Hopping into one’s car is not an option for many families, and the bus costs money. The cost of getting to and from the library can equal or exceed the price of a meal. When there is concern over where your next meal is coming from, how you can possibly pay the rent, the idea of a trip to the library is not even within the scope of possibility. The only way we can guarantee these children have books is to get books in their hands.
And there is something to be said for owning a book, one you love. I myself am a bibliophile who doesn’t believe there is such a thing as “enough” books. I love the smell of the pages, the glossy covers, the physical feeling of a book in my hands. I love and admire dozens of writers and would be hard pressed to come up with a top 10 list of favorite books. When I was a child growing up, my family didn’t have much money, but I do remember my mom splurging for books and the almost-reverent feeling I had for those precious books. (Which I still feel toward books—both new and used—today.)
When we learned from one of the family support specialists how many families of Dennis School live in poverty, the Book Fair Committee wanted to try to make an effort to get books in these children’s hands and homes. We want every child at Dennis School, regardless of their parents’ inability to pay, to receive a book from the book fair. We are putting “One for Books” boxes at six locations around town, asking that patrons of these businesses put in a dollar or simply spare change to buy books for these children, but I am also requesting that donations be sent to Dennis School. We are hoping to raise enough money to allow each child to go to the book fair and pick out a book of their choice. This way, these children will not just be able to own a book, but pick one out that they love. A small donation to buy a child a book helps to promote early literacy and instills an early love for reading. The Dennis Book Fair Committee and PTO graciously thanks everyone who donates to this cause.
Rachel Leon is a stay-at-home mother of three who is a member of the Friends of the Rockford Public Library. Donations can be sent to Dennis Early Childhood, 730 Lincoln Park Blvd., Rockford, IL 61102.
From the Nov. 24-30, 2010 issue