“No one who can read ever looks at a book, even unopened on a shelf, like one who cannot.” -Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
I finished reading two books last week, one an historical recounting of the life of Native American figure Red Cloud and the other about the worst hurricane ever to hit the U.S. I love to read. Reading informs my world view, piques my curiosities, temporarily abducts me from the nonsense in everyday life, makes me laugh, makes me cry. It shapes my opinions and my character. In fact, a love of reading was the lifeline that helped me through college, aided in obtaining my first real job, and guided my vocational choices, even to the present: in my next career, I’d like to return to performing voice-over work, reading for the benefit of others.
There’s nothing terribly unusual in that confession; indeed, most of us are creatures of the written word. Reading is the central tenet of education, vocation, communication with other human beings and of evolution itself. Imagine, for a moment, where civilization and the human parade might be without the ability to read.
It’s not such a far-fetched thing to imagine. There are people who cannot read; not that they choose not to read, but that they are unable to read the written word. They are certainly to be found in the U.S. And I have met far too many of them in Nicaragua, frequently in the rural areas where education often may not exceed third grade due to the need for every family member to work for the family’s basic sustenance. The need to eat comes before the ability to read.
This is the context in which “Let’s Read, Reading Is Fun!” was born and continues to grow in Nicaragua. (I have written about the program here previously, but it continues to be one of the most directly impactful and [for me] personally satisfying endeavors that Winds of Peace Foundation supports.) The premise is simple: get books into the hands of school-age children and thus release the inherent joys to be found in reading.
It’s easy to take reading for granted when using the skill everyday. We read books. We scan newspapers. We network within social media. We send and receive e-mails. We read menus before dining, ballots prior to voting, road signs while driving, and airline tickets before boarding. In short, reading is perhaps the essential skill of modern living. But in Nicaragua, books are not in great supply, so reading skills become stalled for lack of attractive and engaging materials. I can only imagine what my own literacy might be today without help from Dr. Seuss and The Hardy Boys. Where might you be today without the ability to read? (Among other things, you wouldn’t be reading this essay!)
“Let’s read, Reading Is Fun” recognizes the essential need and right that is reading. In 2017, another 9,670 books were distributed within 313 schools. Since its inception in 2010, nearly 54,000 children have participated in the reading program, honing a skill that forever changes who they are and what they will become. (The full report of the “Let’s Read” campaign for 2017 and its cause and effect is posted under the Education Funds section of this website, located on the homepage.)
If you are able to read this entry, congratulations on possessing the skill to do so. While the content written here may not shape your future or your character, what you absorb from the written word elsewhere most certainly will. Go read a book- it will change you. It’s a particularly good thing to know that in rural Nicaragua, those same transformations are happening. You can make book on it….