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I remember as a kid Ma giving me the gift of literature. Now, we were all avid readers in our house, Shannon and I being the biggest fans in the house.
 
Most who know me know I didn’t exactly have it easy. I was a weird kid, afraid of the world; one that rarely smiled past the age of 7. As a weird adult, not so afraid of the world, I look back on some of the special kindnesses Ma bestowed upon me when no one else was looking.
 
She’d pick me up a record album here, or an odd end book there, but the one gift she gave me that stayed with me throughout my life is the gift of The Scholastic Book Club.
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Now, to say money was tight back then is an understatement. Both my parents often went without even the basics so that we had clean clothing and food on the table. That’s what makes this gift so cherished.
 
Once a month I was allowed to buy a single book. It could be whatever book I wanted. I’ll never forget how happy I was to get mine in class. The first was Amelia Bedelia. I was engrossed in the disasters she’d get herself into, and how it was always made better by one of her special pies. I always wanted to see the brass fire bell she polished too much. This girl worked it!
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There were many other such books, but my favourite was “Blubber” by Judy Blume. It was about a fat girl who was teased and bullied relentlessly, and how she overcame the cruelty. You can bet I read that cover to cover at least 20 times. I read it until there was literally nothing left of the poor paperback.
 
At times, books were the only things I had to relate to.
 
So, I’m always glad to see programs like “Imagination Library”
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and “LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary” being made available to underprivileged kids.
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A young imagination can see possibilities in the simplest things, and dream them into a future if properly nurtured. In a world of words, I was the captain of my own starship, a figure skater, a professional dancer, a designer and a world-class vocalist. I pursued the dance career, briefly, because I believed I could from books that inspired me throughout my youth.
 
The point I’m trying to make here is that in a world filled with iPads and PVR’s, there’s something so important about the written word. It not only stimulates young imaginations, it helps bolster confidence, gives new focus when needed at times, and accelerates logic and reasoning.
 
So, to all you wonderful young parents out there, I invite you to have a look around at all the wonderful words you can translate into an adventure for your little one. The Public Library is a good place to start, and costs nothing.
 
The gift of a video game is cool, and I’m sure your munchkin will play it off the map, but what do they truly gain from the experience.
 
Reading, it’s a concept that should be a part of every child’s world. Take it from one former child that survived largely because of the need to read.
 
Food for thought = 1 great book!
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