I grew up in a small town where there was not a lot of diversity. But, my world was big. It was full of people that looked and thought different than me. People from very different backgrounds. This was because I read a lot. Reading opens you up to new worlds, it gives you empathy, it helps you better understand what others are going through. We read to see others. We read to better see ourselves.
Travel also does this. When you travel, you meet all kinds of people. People that practice other religions, people that eat things you’ve never heard of, people that don’t speak your language, people with more money than you, people with less money, people with more education, people with less. But you realize no matter these differences, the vast majority of people are good. At the end of the day, we’re all mere humans with the same wants, fears, and needs. We want to love and to be loved. We’re afraid we’ll be misunderstood or stereotyped. We need to be seen.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers to the challenges we’re facing today. But, I believe the answer is in our youth. Education and literacy are equalizers.
I feel it’s important that we do all that we can to ensure future generations of avid readers. When we lived in West Virginia, I volunteered with Read Aloud West Virginia. I read books out loud to a 3rd & 4th grade class every Friday with the sole purpose to show kids that reading is fun! (I treasure the notes the kids gave me at the end of the year, pictured above.) Reading is knowledge and knowledge is power. There are programs like this across the country and I truly believe this is one way we can create a positive change.
Here’s two books I recommend to read to any and all kids in your life. What are you reading? Let me know what books you recommend—I’m working on a list to share with this community!
A true story about West Virginia native Katherine Johnson who worked for NASA during the Space Race (inspired the movie Hidden Figures).
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