Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Year of Readers

Reading and access to books and education have always been issues close to my heart. One of the first steps to creating an oppressive society and limiting freedom is to ban books and limit access to them. It stands to reason than providing books and encouraging reading and learning can have the opposite effect. Literacy and education empower people, adults and children alike.

Jodie came up with the idea of hosting a year long read-a-thon, asking readers to join her in an effort to raise money for reading and literacy based charities. She writes:

In 2009 I want to spread my love of reading throughout the world. The Year of Readers aims to bring people who enjoy books together to have fun bringing literature into the lives of others. From the 1st January 2009 until 31st of December 2009, I will be running an international read-a-thon that will be open to anyone who reads. It doesn’t matter what kind of books you read or how many you read as long as you’ve got your nose in a book in 2009 you can join in.

She goes on to say:
It’s an easy concept (which is probably why I thought of it). You pick a literary charity that you want to support in 2009. You sign up to be part of The Year of Readers, get people to sponsor you and just start reading whatever you like.

I am slow in signing up for this particular event because choosing a charity to support is not as easy as it looks. There are quite a number of great groups out there who strive to make books and reading more accessible across the globe. How do you choose just one? Do I go with a local outfit or branch out beyond the borders of my own country?

It was this description which struck me the most, however, and was what made me settle on the Book Wish Foundation:
Reading relief is a concept much broader than providing books. It encompasses all of the aid for community institutions and individuals that makes reading possible. This includes, for example, support for libraries, schools, informal literacy and language programs, and vision care. To provide relief, this aid must match the specific needs that exist, which vary according to the crisis situation, culture, language, demographics, educational history, and aspirations of the people being served. These needs form the basis of the Wish Lists on our website, and provide an opportunity for highly targeted giving.

We focus on people in long-term crisis situations because they may face problems so grave that reading relief is not a major component of the aid they receive, although reading may have a great positive impact on their lives. Refugees, internally displaced people, school-aged children not in school, the homeless, the critically ill, and the desperately poor are among the populations we aim to reach.
I am pledging $1 per book read during the year of 2009, including those I have already read so far this year. I am also going to donate an extra $1 for every challenge I am able to complete during the course of the year. I am not going to make a big deal about asking anyone to sponsor me. I've never felt comfortable soliciting donations--not even for those run and walk-o-thons I participated in while in school all those many years ago. If you are interested (whether lump sums or per book or per reading challenge, no matter the amount), please e-mail me (my e-mail address can be found on my profile page), and I will pass along the information for you to do so. Better yet, you can join The Year of Readers too.

This is just a little something I want to do. I give to other charities that support issues I feel passionate about, although never a reading/literacy based one. I just never thought to do anything like this before. It does make sense though, doesn't it? Why not share my love of reading with those who do not have the same resources and means that I do?

It isn't much, I know. It is very little actually, but it is something. In a work related training I attended yesterday the instructor talked about how sometimes all we can do is take a baby step but to remember that even those baby steps are a movement forward. And they add up.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” ~ W. B. Yeats


  1. Great post and a lot to think about!

    I hope you don't mind, but I tagged you for a Happy Tag on my blog. Check it out!

  2. You are so inspiring! You are doing a wonderful thing Wendy!

  3. What a great thing you're doing, Wendy!

  4. Great idea! I do make contributions to local literacy-based charities, and First Book is another way to get books in the hands of young readers.

  5. I'm so thrilled that you're reading for Book Wish too! It does sound like a wonderful charity. I also like the fact that they don't just send them some books but look at the specific needs, and that you can know exactly what your donation would be used for.
    Good luck with your reading and challenges this year. Hopefully we can help make a little difference. :)

  6. I'm so happy you joined! Don't think of what you're doing as small because it's not. With every book you read you're helping someone else.
    Keep up the good work.

  7. I've been on the fence about joining up for this too, and you may have given me that extra nudge I need. Thanks, Wendy!

  8. I left you a response on my last It's Tuesday... post.
    What I didn't mention in that response is that you've got me hooked on the Craig Johnson books! I love Sheriff Walt Longmire! I've got #4 on its way to me and can't wait for #5 to come out. It's all your fault ;o)

  9. So glad you joine! I too am doing this. And like you, I am not being very active in seeking sponsors, well except for my family who is very supportive anyway. This year I'm just asking that they put their money where there mouth is so to speak - but in a very nice way.

    I like the idea of adding additional funds to the kitty for completing a challenge, and in fact, if you don't mind, I will do that too.

    In addition, and I've made this optional for others, short stories will count but at half of what I am paying out for a book.

    So I think I'm doing: $1 per book, $1 per challenge, and $0.50 per short story. Oh my!

    Here's to hoping we both have an excellent reading year - Cheers!!

  10. You're the good Samaritan. Now I've got this to think about and will plan accordingly. Thanks for spreading the word.

  11. Thanks so much for signing up. I'll be donating an extra penny to EcoLibris for every book read by an official participant in 2009 so you're really supporting 2 charities :)

    I'll e-mail you over the standard starting info tomorrow (I'm on a new laptop and don't have all my files yet) and you'll get regular e-mails asking for book totals and telling you about our fab monthly prize draws. Thanks again for signing up and spreading the word :)

  12. Oooh! I like this one(challenge) the best! I'll have to double-check the site and sign up for it.

    Love the new page! I'm also tagging you for a photo meme. Here's the link to my posting:

  13. This sounds like a wonderful thing to do. Thanks for posting about is since I might not have heard otherwise. I popped over to Jodie's site and took a look. There are some great organizations to consider on her sidebar. I'll be taking a closer look after work. Again, thanks for the post.

  14. Way to go, Wendy! You're really an inspiration to us. :)

  15. What a great thing you are doing. I give you big Kudos

  16. This is a great post. I've got to check out the links and see what I would like to do. I like the idea of donating myself per my challenges and how many books I read this year!!

  17. You've inspired me to do the same, Wendy. I hadn't heard of this read-a-thon, but I'm glad you brought it to our attention and I'll definitely be checking it out.

  18. This sounds wonderful! It is definitely something to think about!

  19. Yvonne - Thank you. I spent a lot of time thinking about this post, and so I know what you mean. :-) Thank you for the tag!

    Sandy - Thanks! It's not much, but I wanted to do something.

    Lisa - Thanks! I couldn't resist. It seems like the right thing to do.

    Jenclair - Isn't it? I don't know why I didn't think to do it sooner. First Book was one of the charities I was seriously considering donating to. It does look like a great charity that has done a lot of good getting books into the hands of low income and needy children.

    Nat - I thought it was a good choice. :-) Like you, I especially like that Book Wish does more than just provide books--that they do look to meet specific needs, medical and education needs.

    N. Vasillis - Thank you! I am glad I joined too. I look forward to watching everyone's progress with this challenge and encouraging each other on.

    Florinda - I took the plunge. I blame President Obama. He said something in his speech yesterday that made up my mind about which charity I ended up choosing. :-)

    Terri - I imagine there are even more charities out there than just those on Jodie's sidebar. It's really for a good cause, I think. I hope you do join in!

    Haha! I am glad you enjoy the Craig Johnson books so much. :-)

    J.C. - It's such a great idea, isn't it? I am glad we are doing this together. :-)

    I like your idea of adding in extra money to the pot for each short story read. I may do that too. And, of course, you can add additional funds in for challenges completed too. I don't mind if you take that idea and run with it. :-)

    Matt - I felt like I should do something and this sounded like a good way to go about it.

    Jodie - Thank you for hosting the challenge! I will put the button on my sidebar once Blogger starts cooperating with me again.

    I look forward to getting your e-mail tomorrow with all the details.

    Nymeth - Thank you.

    The Dynamic Duo - It is definitely a worthwhile challenge. I hope you do join in!

    Thank you for the tag to the photo meme! I'll work on it for this weekend. :-)

    Melody - Ah, thanks!

    Cheryl - Thanks so much!

    Staci - Thank you! I think it's a great way to give back a little of what we enjoy so easily.

    Trish - I hope you will join in if you can. I think it's for a good cause, no matter the charity you chose to read for. :-)

    Kristie - I thought so. :-)

  20. Good for you! Send me an email when you're collecting, I'll sponsor you. I contribute to a reading charity but darned if I can remember the name or find it! Read and Something. Too bad I don't write checks anymore. I just mailed them a donation less than a month ago. Sheesh.

  21. This is wonderful! I love that Jodie is putting this together and I guess I'd been dragging my feet about this because I've always hated asking for sponsorships too! I just feel like I'm putting people on the spot. But, I like that you are doing it this way and I saw that Tanabata is too... so I may have to copy you ladies and handle it the same way :)

  22. What a great idea! And what a LONG time it must be since I've visited your blog- it looks quite different than I remember. I like how the paw shows up next to links :-) Anyway, looks like 2009 (so far- fingers crossed) will be a much better reading year for me than the past two, so hopefully we can be back in touch on a more regular basis!

  23. Carrie K - Thank you so much, Carrie! I will be sure and send you the information.

    Iliana - I feel that way too. I don't want to make anyone feel obligated to sponsor me if they don't want to.

    Aarti - The change to my blog is pretty recent, so you haven't missed much. :-)

    I look forward to seeing what you are reading this year.


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