Dear readers: Every Christmas, I ask readers to put “A Book on Every Bed”. I do this in memory of my mother, Jane, whose weekly trips to our town’s library have always yielded tons of books. In our home, we deprived ourselves of some things that other families had, but we still had books in abundance.
The idea of putting books on the beds at Christmas originally came from historian David McCullough, who recounted the Christmas mornings of his youth, when the very first thing he woke up to was a book wrapped at the foot of his bed, left there by Santa Claus.
The most important part is what happens next: the family members read together.
Together with my local literacy partner, Children’s Reading Connection (childrensreadingconnection.org), this campaign has expanded to include schools, libraries and booksellers, who have donated many books to families who may not. have access to it.
This year, I am delighted that author Jacqueline Woodson (jacquelinewoodson.com) has agreed to share a very personal literacy story. Ms. Woodson is the recipient of, well, all awards for her work spanning all genres, including the prestigious Newbery and Caldecott, as well as a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship (2020). Her books, “Brown Girl Dreaming” and “The Day You Begin” are both very important to the children in my life.
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She writes: A stack of books
“The other night a friend was describing her love for books. She said the love started when she was a child and her father brought her a stack of books to read before she fell asleep.
As I listened, I imagined what it would have been like to have “a stack of books” and someone who had time at the end of the day to read them to me. Or better, to be able to read them to me.
The books I had as a child were borrowed from the library or the used books that had passed through many hands before landing, often in disrepair, in my own hands.
Books were both a necessity and a luxury in my childhood.
My mom wanted us to read constantly, but didn’t have the money to buy us “heaps of books.”
To have a brand new book to open at night – it’s crisp binding, the smell of its pages, the sweet breath of air and excitement that come with their rotation – is my dream for every child.
A stack of books begins with one. And like a child, he grows. – Jacqueline Woodson
To support independent bookstores, which had to pivot during the pandemic (like all of us), I present to you a few recently published books in various categories, selected by some of my favorite booksellers.
From Jill Yoemans, owner of White Whale Bookstore in Pittsburgh, PA – three recommendations for early readers:
“Mia Mayhem is a superhero! By Kara West and Leeza Hernandez.
“I’m on it! (Elephant and Piggie Like Reading!)” By Andrea Tsurumi and Mo Willems.
“Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea”, by Ben Clanton.
From Lisa Swayze, Managing Director of Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, NY (Buffalostreetbooks.com):
“The Young Adult category is one of the most diverse, exciting and groundbreaking writing that occurs today. Buffalo Street Books’ # 1 pick this year is “This Poison Heart,” by Kalynn Bayron. Once you get entangled in this breathtaking story, you won’t be able to let go of the book.
We also recommend: ‘The Firekeeper’s Daughter’ by Angeline Boulley, ‘We Are Not Broken’ by George M. Johnson and ‘We Are Inevitable’ by Gayle Forman. “
From the bookseller staff at the Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, DC, Adult Non-Fiction (politics-prose.com):
“Empire of Pain,” by Patrick Radden Keefe: A Fascinating Tale of the Sackler Pharmaceutical Dynasty. For decades, they engaged in aggressive drug marketing, culminating in the promotion of Oxycontin, which fueled the opioid crisis.
“Crying in H Mart”, by Michelle Zauner: In moving prose, the singer paints a startling picture of the pain she endured growing up as the mixed-race daughter of a Korean mother and American father.
“All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake” by Tiya Miles: Winner of the National Book Award, this historian reconstructs the lost lives of a black American family – through the contents of a sack of flour from the 1840s. The history of the bag carries “all the drama and pathos of old tapestries representing the acts of queens”.
You can share your own literacy stories on my Facebook page @AdickinsonDaily, or via Instagram: @booksonbeds.