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Homeless Students Deserve Access to Books

by Lisa Diggs on Jun 04th 2012

For me it all began in 4th grade in Mrs. Ponners' class.  She was my favorite elementary school teacher.  Class was almost always fun because she made it that way.  That is, until one day when she was reading us Charlotte's Web.  All of a sudden she started to get weepy.  She looked to be crying, but I couldn't tell if it was for real.  Surely this book she'd read a gazillion times wasn't genuinely making her shed a tear. 

She asked me to come up front and take over reading to the class for her.  By now I was convinced she was kidding, and just teasing me, so much so that I was laughing as I turned her down.  Undaunted, she turned to Danny Rathwell and asked him to relieve her instead. 

That was it.  That was the moment that I discovered the true power of words and ideas.  In a matter of a few precious moments, even the wacky and irrepressible Mrs. Ponners had been silenced by E.B. White's touching story of the unlikely friendship between a spider and a pig.

Books have the capability of transporting people out of their world and into a land completely their own.  Sure, it's influenced by the author, but it remains ultimately a world of one's own creation.  I suspect that's why readers are so often disppointed by the movies based on a book they love.  It is impossible for any moviemaker to replicate the world we create for ourselves as we interpret someone else's words.

It's not hard to see why reading, to borrow a familiar phrase, is fundamental.

Children who have the opportunity to read, develop their imaginations and an ability to think creatively and problem-solve.  They gain a wider vocabulary and become familiar with sentence structure.  They learn, as I thankfully did, the power of words and ideas.  Yet, in order to read, they need access to books, both in and out of school. 

It's estimated that two thirds of America's children living in poverty have no books at home...if they have a home.  Here in Michigan, we have an opportunity to change that, thanks to an initiative by Michigan Friends of Education - Operation Kid Equip.  They are working to get books into the hands of more than 31,000 homeless students in Michigan by the end of August.

The idea of this statewide initiative is to get books to every identified homeless student in the state.  It's no small task.  Sadly, the number of homeless students in Michigan has jumped more than 300% in the last four years.

Increasing literacy is one significant step we can take toward helping our kids to break the cycles of poverty, homelessness, incarceration and despair.

Securing the books was one challenge, and that has been met.  Now they need our help to raise enough dollars to complete the distribution.  In some school districts the remaining money needed is as low as $23-$47, so every dollar we give can make a significant difference.  In the end, more than $250,000 worth of books will be distributed to Michigan's homeless kids for the cost of about $15,000 in donations.  That's about $16 in books for every dollar donated! 

This is a HUGE opportunity for our state, and together we can make it happen.  Please click HERE to learn more or join me and DONATE NOW.  If your company would like to learn about becoming a campaign sponsor, please email and we will connect you. 

If you're not in a position to donate dollars right now, you may know someone who is, so please share this opportunity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Peoplemovers, Google+, or wherever your social networking takes you.  After all, because of access to books, you can now read a status update.

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