Giving Tuesday: The Gift of Literature

I first heard about Giving Tuesday a few years ago in an article published by my local newspaper. The concept was simple, after a weekend in which companies encourage consumers to find the best deals of the year on Black Friday and search online for the perfect gifts at perfect prices on Cyber Monday, charities nationwide pulled on the heartstrings of shoppers; reigniting the idea that the holiday season isn’t about fist fights in Walmart parking lots but rather in the spirit of giving.

This year, I decided I would donate to a charity that encompasses the spirit of giving and after much deliberation and research as to where my donation dollars would be allocated, I decided to donate to First Book Canada.

First Book Canada is an organization providing new books to programs and schools in Canada that serve low-income families and children. Books are made available to programs/schools at prices nearly 50 to 90 percent lower than retail value through their First Book Marketplace. Additionally, millions of new books go unread and unused each year and through First Book National Book Bank, publishers can donate large quantities of unsold books FOR FREE to be loved and enjoyed by children nationwide. The best part? 97 cents of every dollar donated to First Book Canada goes directly to providing books to children (procurement, shipping, etc.) so your money helps the people you WANT TO HELP.

Aside from all the wonderful reasons above, you might wonder what my connection is to literature. I’ll admit, it holds a place in my heart that no amount of tablet, hologram and driverless-car technology could fill. Books and I have been through a lot. From time travelling adventures in World War II and the Medieval Era to introducing me to authors that quite frankly changed my entire outlook on life (think Mitch Albom, Cheryl Strayed, James Frey), literature has been the gift that keeps on giving.

Per the Canadian Literacy and Learning Network, 42% of Canadians aged 16 to 65 have low literacy rates. Students living in low-income neighbourhoods who are asked to bring a book from home to school are arriving with phone books because THESE ARE THE ONLY BOOKS THEY HAVE. People in Canada can’t read simply because they don’t have books.

If you’re looking for a way to pay it forward this holiday season, I encourage you to make an investment in our future by allowing all children to have access to books; to further their skills, develop their imaginations and to nurture them into curious kids who turn into well-read adults. The future will thank you!