Jay Copp 2013-01-07 22:59:12
Could we exist without books? Well, yes, biologically, it’s possible. But life would be infinitely less rich. “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The person who never reads lives only one,” declared author George R.R. Martin. Books please us and satisfy us as a fat wallet or a full shopping bag never can. “There is no enjoyment like reading. How much sooner one tires of any thing other than of a book,” proclaimed the peerless Jane Austen. Books magically transport us into new realms and toward new understanding of the mysteries of other people’s lives. “Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul,” asserted writer Joyce Carol Oates. These lovers of books actually understate the case for reading and literacy. Those who cannot read probably cannot work or at least advance in the workplace, cannot fully take part in society, cannot avoid the traps and pitfalls in life that literate people seamlessly avoid. Children who read poorly and fall behind their peers will likely forever be playing catch-up and fail to realize their potential. Recognizing the importance of literacy, International President Wayne A. Madden is encouraging clubs to be part of his Reading Action Program (RAP). Lions can develop after-school reading programs, read to children or tutor them, donate books or otherwise help children and adults improve their literacy. Lions this year have responded: • Laveen Lions in Arizona gave to needy students 350 backpacks filled with school supplies and a book. • Protection Island Lions in British Columbia, Canada, opened a library in a former lighthouse keeper’s cottage, now a community center. • Canton Lions in Connecticut placed a half-dozen collection boxes in the area to collect books for Santa to distribute to children. • Indian River High School Leos in Delaware set out to collect 1,000 books for elementary school students. • Lions in Chino, California, help sponsor the annual Family Festival of Books, which includes author visits, celebrities reading books and a read-a-thon among schoolchildren. • The first Braille Reading Center in Liberia was launched by the Greater Monrovia and Cape Mesurardo Lions. • One of the most innovative literacy projects was the sidewalk poetry contest in Minnesota. The Falcon Heights Lauderdale Lions partnered with the City of Falcon Heights on the competition. The winning poem will be stamped on a city sidewalk. The short poem, “Embedded Walk,” is: Walking along, Glancing down, Eye the words: Poetry in motion. Lions also are encouraged to make a RAP video about getting children to read and to submit the video to Lions Clubs International through the LCI YouTube channel. The top video will be played at the international convention in Hamburg, and the club will receive a special award.
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