In all of my years of traveling to many different countries, one of the things that has most amazed me is how much we take for granted our access to books. I would venture to say that there are probably very few children in this country who don’t own (or have the opportunity to own) at least one book. In fact, there are many literacy groups and initiatives in the US focused on providing books to children who might not have access to them. Some of these groups even provide board books to moms-to-be so that they can begin reading to their child as soon as they are born! Furthermore, we are blessed with a wonderful system of libraries that puts thousands of books at our disposal.
In many other parts of the world, this is not the case. A book is a rare and priceless treasure. Something that children dream about owning the way children here often dream of owning the next big gaming system on the market. Having visited libraries in other parts of the world, I can also say that the selection of books is often much more limited than what is available to children (and adults!) in the United States.
That’s why when I saw this post on Tara Lazar’s writing blog about Books and Smiles for Haiti, I thought it was a great cause! The folks at Books and Smiles for Haiti are currently in the process of collecting board books, picture books, beginning readers, and information books with pictures of animals, science, space, and more. Their goal is to have a large collection of books by the end of the school year so that they can be crated and transported to Haiti.
If you would like to participate in their efforts, you can email author Chieu Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org for the mailing address. You can also join the Facebook group page for updates. Anyone can donate books, but if you are an author and you pledge to make a donation AND leave a comment on Tara’s blog post by the end of March, she is offering a free picture book critique! So take advantage of that opportunity while you still can!
Having visited Haiti a few years ago, I think that the name Books and Smiles for Haiti is a very apt one as I can just imagine the smiles that these books are sure to bring to the faces of the children there. I just mailed my books this week, and I hope you’ll join me in bringing books and smiles to the beautiful children of Haiti who are sure to treasure them.