Here's something wonderful that has the power--literally--to change a person's life. I will spare you the details (although I will put links at the end of this post so you can read said details if you like) and give you the summary: a library in the Los Angeles County Juvenile Hall System is trying to acquire books so that 300 incarcerated young men, aged 12-18, who have signed up for voluntary writing classes, will have something to read. A Wish List of approved paperbacks has been set up through an independent bookstore. There are 2700 adolescent boys locked up in the L.A. County juvenile system, so the hope is that many more than this initial 300 will take advantage of the library.
I'd like to suggest you give up a latte or two this week and participate in this "Book Fair for Boys." Even with shipping, most titles will cost you less than $10 or $15, and that small investment will be used over and over and over again to introduce young men to the power of words, to the awareness that somebody cares, to the idea that there just might be a better path for them to pursue, to the realization that the power to change their life lies literally within their hands.
Think about the impact books have made on your life, then think about the impact you can have on a teenage boy who still has time to make a choice about what he does with his life. Then:
- Go to http://www.powells.com/, click on Wish List at the top right corner of the page, and enter firstname.lastname@example.org in the space provided. Click on "Guys Lit Wire" and it will take you to the approved Wish List.
- Select the book you'd like to send and follow the prompts to put it in your shopping cart and check out. You'll recognize many of the titles; it's a good mix of classic and contemporary books in multiples genres. Some of the boys read at age level and beyond; others are still at picture book level. The Wish List was compiled with an eye toward building the foundation of a library that can offer boys something of interest at every reading level.
- Enter this for the shipping address:
5850 Brookline Lane
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
You can add a gift card at no extra charge.
I sent Sheep, a book by Valerie Hobbs for middle grade readers, about a border collie looking for love and purpose to help him find his way. I hope its pages get worn completely out.
Read more about this project:
Guys Lit Wire - The group that initially decided to help the library acquire books. GLW is a blog maintained by a group of librarians, teachers, and writers that suggests great books for guys.
Inside Out Writers - The group sponsoring the writing classes for the L.A. County juvenile system. IOW is a nonprofit organization that utilizes volunteer teachers and writers to help juvenile offenders express themselves through writing and reading their work in a nonjudgemental environment.