The Power of One Writer
Back Yards, Ethiopia and Children's Books

Off in the snow, throwing starfish

The story goes that a man, walking on a beach after a storm, comes upon a person who stoops, picks up a starfish, and flings it into the ocean. 

The man looks around.  Starfish litter the sand all up and down the beach.   “You’re nuts,” he says.  “You could work all day and not make one tiny bit of difference here.”

The other stoops, picks up a starfish, flings it into the ocean.  “Well,” he says, “I made a difference to that one.”

Today, I slide off through the snow to Denver.  I’ll talk to kids in three schools about Lanie, the girl who discovers she has the power to make a difference with ladybugs and birds and butterflies and plants and orangutans.

One of the schools has raised money for three years for Ethiopia Reads.  I’ll talk to them–and to a group of parents who’ve adopted kids from Ethiopia–and to people who’ve given money to start children’s libraries in Ethiopia–about what has happened because they stood in the sand and threw starfish.  

When Yohannes wrote me an email from San Francisco Public Library, almost ten years ago, he said, “Books change lives.”  He said, “What about the children on the streets of Addis Ababa who have no library like this one to go to?  No books to read?”

Once, my little sister was a girl who saved her allowance for a year to give to an orphanage that Mother Teresa started in Ethiopia.  She was one of the first girls I knew who was a starfish thrower.

In the past ten years, I’ve met a bunch of others.

I can’t wait for the ones I’ll meet this week.  I can’t wait to show them the faces of the children who now–because of the efforts of hundreds of starfish-flingers–are holding books…and dreams…and hope…in their hands.

4 thoughts on “Off in the snow, throwing starfish”

  1. Thanks for the kudos for the leadership team. They will be thrilled. I’ll show them when we meet for Tuesday in my room. I baked them cookies too. (the only sort of payment readily available to me, but from the heart:) We will start collecting the pennies and keep brainstorming about how they can spread the word in the next mth. Be encouraged. God is moving my friend. x


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