Right in Front of Me

It was never my intention for the blog to be about politics or to try to convince you to believe what I believe. It’s about living a better life, but my life has been pretty great already. There are a thousand things I take for granted everyday. One of my lifelong favorite activities is to read. Books made up a huge portion of my childhood.  I used to get in trouble for READING. Not drugs, vandalism or violence. Reading. That’s how much I love it. I was recently chatting with a coworker about our shared love of reading and she threw a little tidbit at me that shocked me.

There are more than 150 schools in Chicago that do not have libraries.

I honestly did not believe her so I called up my bfff who happens to be a teacher in Chicago. Her reply? “Yeah I work in one.”  I was floored. Ok ok, I grew up in a northern suburb and I went to a private school that had a library and a librarian and a computer lab that had functioning computers. I guess I just assumed that the kids that lived an hour south of me had the same stuff. My school was not rich. The families in my community were not Rockefellers, but we had what we needed. My brothers went to a public high school with a 99% graduation rate.  So I was stunned.

I told my coworker about my teacher friend and she bought her books for the classroom! She did such a thoughtful, wonderful act with such attention to detail.  My friend teaches a class of 6th grade students in an extended day program.  Her class consists of one student who reads at a sophomore level, 6 in special ed, 3 who understand but don’t speak English and the rest read at a 2, 3 or 4 grade level.  So my coworker bought an enormous range of books for the enormous difference in reading levels in the class. She is truly a sweet woman.

I rounded up some books from my siblings that they’ve grown out of and a few from other families, but nothing compares to what my coworker did for a teacher and students she doesn’t even know. CPS accepts donations of a range of items, but we decided to give the books to my friend to keep in her class and use as she pleases during her classes. It’s nice to know where a donation is going and to know that it’ll be used. Some schools in Chicago have libraries but no librarians.  This means that library time and the support a librarian can offer to both teachers and students is missing.

In Chicago, though, it’s no surprise that these schools are lacking in staff and funding.  I could also go on and on about how education is the solution to almost all our problems (mental health awareness, infant mortality rate, violence, corrupt government), but I know I would bore you. I could also be reminding you of the disparate conditions of the city I grew up loving.  It overwhelms me and makes me feel like there is nothing little old me can do.  These are not my point. I guess what I want you to walk away from this post with is that there is one woman who saw a need and out of the goodness in her heart, filled it.  Her donated set of Roald Dahl books might make a difference in an eleven year old’s life (like they changed mine). That’s something to be joyous about.

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