By Lauren Sandford*
I love reading. I’ve always loved reading, for as long as I can remember. It is, quite frankly, a very difficult feeling to describe. Reading is an escape, a route to disappear from reality for a while between the pages of a hardback cover, tucked in the corner of the library or on your living room sofa. What about the arrival, though? Reading provides a destination, the story an exciting journey worth exploring and returning to time and time again. Reading also provides the opportunity for a story to be shared. That’s why on International Book Giving Day, I would encourage you all to remember your favourite book and share it on #bookgivingday!
My earliest memory of a book is “reading” Mercer Mayer’s Happy Halloween, Little Critter! to my mom before bed every single night (regardless of the actual holiday season). I felt so proud of myself, and my mom of me, even though she knew I was just making up the words as I went along. (Thanks, Mom!) I love the Little Critter series because they touch highly upon the importance of family. I know a lot of the time we can take for granted the loved ones we do have in our lives, and just upon revisiting these titles brings back a flood of memories, reading and spending time with my own family. The series also taught me a great deal about kindness, giving to others, and accepting others for who they are. There are a wide variety of animal characters throughout the books, and I remember thinking how sweet it was that Little Critter could be friends with a cat or a bear or a toad. Friendship comes in all different shapes and sizes, and I believe that is an important feature of many children’s stories, especially those published by Tiny Owl.
If I had to pick any book from my childhood that has been the most influential, memorable story, it is without-a-doubt The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.
The Giving Tree taught me a great deal about selflessness and unconditional love; that placing the needs of the ones you love above your own is an important and humbling act. The tree consistently gives to the boy without expecting anything in return. Though she ultimately sacrifices her being for the sake of the boy’s happiness, he eventually returns in his old age to show the tree just how much he appreciated her.
In a similar way, with a combination of imagination, multiculturalism and splendor, Tiny Owl books step outside of the norm of children’s stories to explore new, different, honest, and true tales. The Clever Mouse teaches that kindness is more important than beauty; Bijan & Manije reflects upon selflessness and the power of love; A Rainbow in my Pocket emulates the will to dream and explore your curiosity of the world.
Reading a book isn’t simply about looking at the pictures or passing the time, but learning about the world, understanding others and accepting our differences. Reading is about experiencing and reflecting upon the story. Reading is about giving, and sharing stories with the people (or critters) you love.
International Book Giving Day is 100% volunteer-led and aims to increase children’s access to and enthusiasm for books. You could
- give a book to a friend or family member
- leave a book in a waiting room for children to read
- donate a gently used book to a local library, hospital or shelter or to an organization that distributes used books to children in need internationally
*Lauren Sandford is an intern at Tiny Owl Publishing – thank you Lauren!