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

You know you want an autographed Lanie!

Sometimes when I visit a school these days, I worry we’re communicating that reading is a chore that people do because they must.  It makes me think about what reading does–how it tickles our emotions and plants visions.  Good readers imagine themselves into the skin of other human beings, which leads to compassion and empathy.  Thousands of children in Ethiopia learn to read but never are able to actually hold and read a book.  You can see the joy and delight written on this girl’s face when she got that chance.  I’ve talked to Ethiopians who had books, when they were children, and stood outside under street lights to be able to read at night.  Thus 

Reading inspires action sometimes.  In Denver, I was impressed to thrilldom by this reader (left) and her science journal.  Sometimes reading nudges us to do something artistic.  (When I read a wonderful book, I often want to write something wonderful.)  In Texas, I met a young reader who later sent her art work (right) with me.  It even got published:

Another family shared this shadow box that they created after meeting me at the American Girl store in Dallas.  I want to be able to do things like that with all the pictures and things I collect on my journeys.

This Sunday, I’m sitting and remembering those kids and their families and the grown-up volunteers who worked so hard on the fundraisers for Ethiopia Reads in Denver and Boulder last week.  People gave their time–one of the most precious things we have to give–and their money.  Three families at the fundraisers gave generous donations and won the chance to have tea with…well…with ME!  Tea was gorgeous and fun.  But even more exciting, that money will send books to Ethiopia.

And you?  You can go to and order one or more of the autographed copies of Lanie that were left over from the fundraiser.  Remember your local school, your local library, your friends and relatives.  The money will make a big difference in Ethiopia, where girls like this are holding books for the very first time.


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