I’ll never forget the day Christopher opened his birthday present from me 10 years ago. His words were kind and grateful, but the expression on his face told me that he wanted nothing to do with the gift (or anything like it for that matter).
It was my first opportunity to buy Christopher a gift (we had recently been matched through Big Brothers Big Sisters), so I wanted to get him a nice toy as well as a good book. I can’t remember what toy I gave him that day, but I do remember the book.
When he opened The Giver by Lois Lowery, it was as if he couldn’t get it on a shelf (out of his way) fast enough! For months after his birthday, I would ask him what he thought about the book, and he made it pretty clear that he had no interest in reading the book.
Obviously, it was kind of discouraging to have him completely dismiss a book that I loved so much, but I decided that I would keep giving him a book for every special occasion. Of course, he kept giving me “the look” each time he would open a book before promptly setting it on a shelf to let it collect dust with the others. Around the same time, I would ask him how his grades in school were, and he would either answer with an “I don’t know,” or “Mostly C’s.” It was clear that he didn’t really care about school, and he definitely didn’t want anything to do with the books I was giving him.
Somewhere along the way, though, things started to change. One day, he gave The Giver a try, and he loved it. Then he started to read some of the other books I had bought him – and he LIKED them, too! Next thing I knew, he was reading series books and ASKING to go to the bookstore to buy the latest books in those series. He started to pay attention to his grades and started caring about how he did in school. It didn’t happen overnight, but Christopher is a completely different person 10 years after that first birthday book.
He recently graduated from high school in the top 10% in his class, and I think a lot of his success can be attributed to a love of reading that began (in part) with the gift of a book.
So this summer, I hope you’ll consider supplementing the next birthday present you give with the gift of a book… Your gift will be definitely be appreciated – even if it takes a few years!
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