It started when I was 5. My heart was broken when the beautiful princess pricked her finger on the spindle and fell into a deep sleep for a hundred years. I was happy with joy when the prince charming kissed her and she woke up to much jubilation.
I rode on the back of a cat with huge boots as he tramped through the country-side, charming the king with gifts. Together we crafted the clever plan to bring his master to the attention of the king (and his daughter). And I egged him on as he outwitted the horrible ogre.
Throughout the years I’ve immersed myself in alternative worlds. Through devouring books I have known past worlds and future worlds. The sheer pleasure of losing myself in these other worlds, the current one momentarily forgotten, dishes, washing, cooking…all relegated to the back seat as I enjoy front row seats to witness Sherlock Holmes solve mysterious crimes and the dashing Darcy romance the clever Elizabeth.
As a kid I refused to do my homework until I had read for an hour. By the time I got to my homework I was in a much better frame of mind. Reading has always been and remains a stress-reliever for me.
Reading provides general knowledge. A knowledge of the world. A knowledge of different people – it promotes diversity and cultural awareness. There are worlds and minds to be explored in the pages of a book.
Where else can You Journey to the Centre of the Earth? Or go Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea? Or spend Five Weeks in a Balloon? Jules Verne’s books have been hugely inspirational to me. In real life, to do each of those things would take a ton of money. But I can experience them anyway, in my imagination, for a whole lot less.
Amidst the Limpopo textbook scandal I am keenly aware of being extremely fortunate to have been brought up surrounded by books. A child should never have to ask for a book. A child should never want for a book. It should be provided, thereby encouraging them to read for enjoyment, affording them the opportunity to discover wonderful, different, new, worlds and peoples. Allowing minds to develop and expand.
Mandela Day is coming up on the 18th of July. What better day is there to donate books to children who need them? I will be doing so.
And in so doing I hope to go a bit of a way towards affording kids who can’t afford books, the beginnings of a happily ever after.