a world in their hands and the loveliest of addictions

Most of us have grown up around books…. piles and piles of books that fill our minds as well as our shelves. So many books that we don’t know what to do with them. When ebooks emerged like hungry beasts eating page after page, sentence after sentence, word after word, we discussed ad nauseaum how to handle this almost cold-turkey withdrawal from our lovely addiction to bound words, and what to do with those dusty books on the shelf which we may have read but didn’t make the cut as far as keeping.

I can’t imagine, as I’m sure 99.9999% of my readers cannot, how many books I have actually owned in my relatively short life. How many times I’ve wandered into a bookstore or an online catalogue and just bought what I wanted to read, then add to that those I borrowed, from others, or from the libraries to which I’ve always had blessedly easy access.

It’s a given in our lives, having books, having access to what we want to read, whenever we wish, and like most givens we rarely appreciate them.

I’ll harp back on my common cry about how when one travels one can view one’s own good fortune with clear eyes. Just leave your comfy perch and visit a developing country and you’ll quickly discover that books to so many are a luxury beyond reach. Just think of the pleasure you’ve had from the written word, and try to imagine how your mind would be now if you hadn’t had all that input, stimuli. Where you would be if you hadn’t had access to books.

It’s not just in developing countries where children grow without access to books; clearly our own country has extensive poverty and, given the choice of feeding your child’s belly or his mind, any mother would choose the former. It’s a no-brainer (and extensively proven) that literacy is a strong predictor of a child’s future success, in all worlds, and there are many good people and strong organizations who don’t just ponder the issue as I do, but actually take action, here and in other parts of the world.

I love the idea of harnessing technology for good. Worldreader, has as its mission that of making digital books available to all in the developing world or, in their own words, their aim is “to put a library of books within reach of every family on the planet, using electronic book technology.” Every Family On The Planet, worth repeating, and actually feasible! Here is their co-founder explaining the concept:

You might also want to watch this video about their efforts which begins, appropriately, with a quote: “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.” I love that. Oh, and that was Steve Jobs who said it 🙂

Amusingly enough, what prompted this post was not the high-tech world of e-readers, but the low-tech efforts of one man, and a burro, to accomplish similar goals. You can read about Luis Soriano and his “biblioburro” here.

Next time you pick up a book, or an ereader, remember how very fortunate you are. I will too.



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