Listen, we spend the year bemoaning the death of literature, the short attention span of America's youth, the end of reading as we know it ... whine, whine, whine.
But what are we doing to build the next generation of readers? And I'm not talking about the kids with bookshelves already standing -- full and overloading -- in their bedrooms. I'm talking about the kids who don't have books, the kids who aren't cracking open books and disappearing into worlds....
If the book is there, they will eventually crack that book open. If the books aren't there? Well, chances are that they won't be reading them.
Books in the home is a primary indicator for literacy. Let's work this.
"But, Baggott," you say, "how do we get books to those kids? Huh? How?"
Actually, it's really simple.
HERE ARE THE 7 SIMPLE STEPS:
1. Get a box.
2. Put that box in front of your office door.
3. Send an email telling people it's there and encouraging them to put children's books (new and lightly used) into the box.
4. Go to schooldigger.com. Look for the schools in your area that are scoring low, that have a high number of kids who qualify for Free & Reduced Lunches. Call one of the schools and ask if they're Title I.
5. If yes, ask to talk to the media specialist or reading coach. Tell them you have free books for their kids -- just to give away, or to help stock the library shelves.
6. They will say: Bring it on!
7. Bring the books on.
There's also another way -- a simpler version.
1 SIMPLE STEP
Write a check and send it to Kids in Need - Books in Deed:
The FSU Foundation
C/O Kids in Need - Books in Deed, Fund #0430
2010 Levy Avenue
PO Box 3062739
Tallahassee, FL 32306-2739
We'll buy books for kids in the state of Florida and help set up author-donated school visits (complete with free books).
And I'm thinking up a New Year's Resolution in which I relentlessly goad other Creative Writing Programs into a competitive book drive . Other programs: beware.