Growing up, reading was a fundamental part of my life. My parents both loved to read – books, magazines, newspapers – and they constantly instilled their love for the written word into my siblings and myself. My mom was a newspaper and magazine fiend, subscribing to The Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post, The Douglas County News-Press, Time, Newsweek, and Life Magazine. My dad was a reader of history, and could always be found with his dog-eared copy of Shelby Foote’s massive three-volume tome on the history of the Civil War. He must have read them all 10 times. I, personally, have fond memories of sitting in the little public library where I grew up, while my mother worked at an old wooden desk next to the door. It is one of those vivid memories of childhood – I can distinctly remember the smell and feel of the old books, the green carpet, the dirty windows, the worn bookcases – it’s all perfectly imprinted on my mind and it always brings a smile to my face. I would sit on the floor of that library, which was part of the old Perry Park stables, and read Ferdinand or Big Dog, Little Dog over and over again. I delighted in the feel of those books, with their worn, smooth pages. I loved being transported into the world of an innocent young bull who only, in the end, wanted to smell the flowers under an old cork tree.
Eventually, that little library closed down but my love of books only continued to grow. I go nowhere without a book, and, like many of you, I simply cannot imagine my life without a book tucked beneath my arm. I know that this is the reason why I love Reach Out and Read Colorado. I want children to have that same experience that I had growing up, I want them to have the memory of the simple joy of a book permanently imprinted in their minds. It all starts, in my opinion, with the simple act of reading to your child and giving them access to books. This organization helps to ensure that becomes a reality for so many kids in this state. For many kids, these are the only books that they will ever have in their homes, making them as precious as diamonds or pearls. As we march toward the Fifteenth Year Anniversary and I prepare to co-chair the Benefit Breakfast in October, I continually reflect upon all of the kids who have been served by this program. It’s remarkable that something as simple as giving a book to a parent and teaching them the value of reading to their child, can so vastly change the trajectory of their lives.
Hope to see you all at the breakfast at the Denver Botanic Gardens on October 2.
Feature by Anne Chandler, Benefit Breakfast Co-Chair & Reach Out and Read Colorado Board Member