It’s rather an open secret that Dolly Parton is a champion of children’s literacy. Her “Imagination Library“, which started in 1995 with only her home county in Tennessee in mind has grown to spread across the United States and abroad to Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia. Partnering with local organizations, the Imagination Library has managed to give millions of children books.
I was so happy when I learned that the Imagination Library was going to partner with a local nonprofit in my county here in the PNW because I finally had kids of my own who could benefit from the program. I’ve been so pleased with the books my two littles receive every month. There has been a wide variety of topics and features a diverse cast of protagonists with authors of all kinds of backgrounds. The stories range from The Little Engine that Could to Hair Love to This Beach is Loud! to A Father’s Love. Again, so pleased with the variety and diversity, especially because I work to ensure my kids read widely and not just about children who look like them and have their same experiences.
Have you ever been a recipient of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library? What do you think of it? What other ways do you know of to get books to children? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
You know how sometimes you pick up a book and it’s the exact right book for the moment? It doesn’t have to be deeply meaningful or change your life forever, but maybe it fits a mood or scratches a hard-to-reach reading itch or…? Y’know? Well, somehow, I’ve stumbled across a few of these since the beginning of March when my corner of the world succumbed to C19.
In no particular order:
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (audiobook)
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao (sequel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns)
Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic by Michael McCreary
The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (audiobook)
The two audiobooks have been especially comforting, and I think the narrators’ voices have a lot to do with that. The material covered in both is somehow nostalgic and cozy, and I honestly can’t put my finger on why. I’ve seen The Neverending Story movie, but of course, the book goes into a great deal more of the narrative, and this is my first time reading it. It was also my first time reading Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, so again, not sure about the nostalgia factor there. Regardless, they both gave me the feeling of being wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket, drinking tea, near a fire–probably with a good chocolate biscuit on hand. (Why my idea of coziness must include a British sweet and not an American one, I don’t know.)
I’m curious. What books have you enjoyed lately? What else are you watching, doing, etc., that gives you that feeling of cozy nostalgia?
One of the best books that I read last year was Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson. It’s an unconventional story about a modern-day hacker in the Middle East who stumbles across a magical tome and finds himself caught between a totalitarian government and a world of supernatural beings who belong in myths more than reality. The premise alone was enough to get me to read the book, but I found some wonderful gems along the way that kept me thinking long after I finished reading. One of those quotes came from an imam in the novel who was imprisoned for his connection to the hacker protagonist. It follows:
“I have had much experience with the unclean and uncivilized in the recent past. Shall I tell you what I discovered? I am not the state of my feet. I am not the dirt on my hands or the hygiene of my private parts. If I were these things, I would not have been at liberty to pray at any time since my arrest. But I did pray, because I am not these things. In the end, I am not even myself. I am a string of bones speaking the word God.”
And a quote that made me chuckle:
“You’ve got Internet in the Empty Quarter?” he asked in an awed voice. Cousin, said the shadow, we’ve got WiFi.
On a whim, I decided to undertake a reading challenge for 2015. It only makes sense to do it because sometimes I get caught up in other narratives (ah, Netflix, my sweetest downfall…I loved you first. I loved you first…) and honestly forget how much I enjoy reading. There’s something magical about the written word, and it’s quite a different experience to watching a story visually unfold.
This is what I’m aiming for this year…
Just as I had a really good reason to tune out the world in favor of Doctor Who (reboot) marathons, I also had a really good reason to pick up this reading challenge. Writers need to read: it’s as simple as that. Need. Not should, ought to, probably would be better off if they did, but need to read. So when I stumbled across a reading challenge, I decided, “Why not?” and committed to reading 50 books in a year. For someone who reads slowly, this is no small commitment, so I’m trying to balance my more serious reading with lighter fare.
I’m trying to plan my reading according to my “to read” list on Goodreads to see if I can hack away at it a bit–a Sisyphean task since I only keep adding new ones to the list. Ah well. Currently, I’m one book ahead of my reading schedule, although I was several books up earlier this year. Then life caught up and Doctor Who became my companion. (Heh.)
Without further ado, the list of books I’ve read so far this year:
Description and Setting by Ron Rozelle
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Arcanum 101 by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill
Unenchanted by Chanda Hahn
Fairest by Chanda Hahn
Fable by Chanda Hahn
Reign by Chanda Hahn (These four were a YA series that I ate up.)
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (SO good!)
The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (breathtaking)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (highly recommend)
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Allegiant by Veronica Roth (This was a fun romp, but not as much substance as I’d hoped for in the end.)
Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith
What was Lost: a Christian Journey through Miscarriage by Elise Erikson Barrett*
The Taming of the Chew by Denise Lamothe (ok)
Everblue by Brenda Pandos (like a mermaid version of Twilight…DO NOT recommend)
So this is where I’m at so far in the challenge. I’ve read a decent chunk of YA lit, but I’ve also read several good nonfiction books and dabbled in the classics. I only regret a few books on this list, so that’s not so bad, eh?
Until next time!
*If you or someone you know has suffered a miscarriage or other pregnancy loss, I highly recommend this book.
“From that first moment, in a way she could never explain, the Meadows claimed her and made her their own.” Elizabeth George Speare, The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Other than the Bible, I could probably read Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond every week for the rest of my life and never get tired of it. Within the first year or so of owning the book, I read it eight times. I love this book. Just thinking about it makes me want to go home and hug it tightly to my chest. No other novel comes even remotely close to how much I adore this story. Harry Potter and Narnia and Middle-Earth take a back seat to 1687’s New England. Continue reading →
I got swept up in 12th Man fever. Also, it’s easier to have a routine during the work week than on the weekend so when I said I thought the challenge was helping, well…apparently it only sort of helps and only Monday-Friday. Putting all that aside, let’s move on to day seven in the challenge! Continue reading →
I have been an avid reader since early childhood and read everything I could get my hands on from my mother’s college mythology textbook when I was seven years old to Mange-moi, s’il te plaitas an adult. In college, my reading dwindled because my brain could only handle so much, but I have begun to read more since I graduated. Depending on the engagement in my current course load, I still read for pleasure where I may. (Bus commuting is prime reading/writing time.) Continue reading →
I’ve got links, I’ve got links, I’ve got links, I’ve got links, I’ve got LINKS! (Sung to the tune of “I’m the Map” from Dora the Explorer.) Lots of writing and literary links after the jump! Continue reading →
What? Writing about writing on a writer’s blog? Who’d have thought this post would ever come to pass… From writing retreats to the supposedly greatest books of all time, I am hooking you up today! All of the writerly links are after the jump. Continue reading →