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05 July 2015 @ 08:28 pm
The book will provide  
On the final morning of Boothbay Literacy Retreat, Naomi Shihab Nye read several poems. One line struck me so deeply in my heart and soul that, even 3 days later, it is still reverberating inside my head: "The book will provide." I think about all the things that books have provided for me over the years, and I know this to be an essential truth. What have books provided me?

SHELTER FROM THE SLINGS AND ARROWS OF LIFE. Books were an escape for me from so many things as a child. I could drive in that roadster with Nancy Drew when I felt trapped inside my own fears. I could place myself in harm's way to save my sister in The Hunger Games and test my courage safely within the story. I could find love, seek acceptance, brave any danger.

VISIONS OF WHAT I COULD BE AND BECOME. Books showed me that there were few limits I could not surpass, few obstacles I could not clear, few dreams I could not make reality. I still look at my life in wonder. Spending a week in Maine with really smart folks, speaking in front of groups, writing reviews and columns and chapters and books. Who had those dreams for me as a child? Who saw the kid I was as the adult I have become? Somehow books provided me the assurance that I could not find elsewhere.

IDEAS I MIGHT NOT ENCOUNTER WITHIN MY OWN COMMUNITY. I learned about other religions, other communities, other situations, other family structures, and more within the pages of books. I was able to expand my community beyond the 4 walls of the school, of my house, of the church, of my city.

Books still do this for me. THEY PROVIDE.


I wonder, though, if it is an essential truth for ALL readers, that books will provide? If we do not permit choice in reading; if all the reading our students do is directed by us; if there is no authentic literature being used, how can books provide anything other than answers on some test? If we want to make sure that books provide, we need to make sure they get into the hands of readers. That means we read and we share our reading. As folks travel to Michigan this week for nErDcamp, they will be sharing books and reading. They will provide readers the same. And that is indeed a comfort.
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