the thing about books is

They mean something. I know, brace yourself, this might get sentimental. The reason I say this is because I didn’t know it before Ghana. I never really understood this whole, what do you guys call it? : reading-for-fun - thing. I joined the Peace Corps right out of college and never had the time for pleasure reading. Or should I say I would rather fill that time with America’s Next Top Model marathons. But now that I have 12 hours of awake time to fill in a village that only really works (farming) a couple months out of the year, I have all the time in the world. After watching all my DVD’s, thrice, with director’s commentary and then in French, I gave in and started reading books: as all good Peace Corps volunteers do. I have formed quite a habit of it. Now when they start talking about books (one of 3 topics we talk about), there is a half a chance I can join in! I even recommend books sometimes! Crazy world.

This week my students and I spent the better half of the day unpacking those boxes of books, and blowing our noses (it got a bit dusty). I opened one box to find that it was chalk full of my own children’s books. At first, I was delighted and announced it for all to hear. How neat, my students from a world away now have the opportunity to read the same books I grew up loving. But the more I unpacked the box, I started getting a bit panicky. I realized these books meant a lot to me. I was flooded with memories of footie pajamas, reading books in the arms of my mother or father. It wasn’t special anymore, I was entrusting my childhood memories to a bunch of kids who would surely scribble on them and rip the pages. It is one thing to raise a few thousand dollars, convince two schools and several families to donate boxes of books and motivate a community to build themselves a library, but this was asking too much of me. I’ll be honest, I even snuck two books into my bag. I know I can re-buy a lot of these books for my own children one day, but I was afraid I would never see a few again. One was a book of European fairy tales that I remember reading over and over again when I was pint-sized. Another was The Family Under the Bridge, a Christmas story that I would read to my four younger brothers every Christmas Eve for years to help them sleep when the anticipation of stacked presents to open kept them awake.

Ok, here’s where I get a little mushy. My childhood was blessed. I’m not saying these kids have it all that bad, and they do have their own oral storytelling. But they didn’t have a box of childhood memories between pages. The few who can read learned how to do so in their early teens. They have no idea the world of adventure that comes with loving to read books. I realized as I unpacked, literally about a thousand books, that most probably had childhood memories attached to them before they were packed in a box and shipped to Ghana. I also realized that there is a chance they will become a part of these kids here too. That makes up for this never-ending project. And for that, I may even give back my book of fairy tales. Maybe. I’m not making any promises.


Anonymous said…
one can never have enough books nor read too many words...props for your the blog...

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