One day a year to give to the causes you care about most

We loved this eloquent post by our friend Stacy Ratner about the huge impact a book made on her life.

The (Gift) That Took The Place Of A Mountain

“Small gift, big impact. Tell us about a time when you saw a small act of giving create lots of unexpected joy.”

Physically, it was small: eight inches long and six across by less than an inch thick, trim enough to fit easily into the padded envelope my father used instead of wrapping it. “A book!” I said, feeling the corners through the bubble-pop paper. A minute later, it slid out into my hands and hit me squarely in the heart. It was his treasured early edition of our favorite poet’s first collection, and it contained not only all the familiar verses, but all the memories firmly twined into them. In high school, when I was a misfit senior hiding in the library, these were the poems I used for my thesis paper. When I went to college, the note my father left on my dresser began with a quote from one of them. In the celebrations associated with every significant achievement and special day since then, one stanza or another from this collection has made an appearance. I majored in literature because of the poems printed in this book. Eventually, after a long and twisting path through poetry-less careers, they gave me the courage to found a literacy organization (whose creative writing field trips for high school students, appropriately enough, include an excerpt). And here, as the poet himself would have said, it was — not ideas about the thing, but the thing itself.

The book is small enough that its spine does not even have room enough for the title. A description of its impact on my life, though, would fill more pages than I have years left to write them in. That glittering, transcendent, heartfelt promise lies between every set of covers — the potential to show a different way, create a new world, and change the life of the reader forever — and so to give someone the gift of a printed version, to be held, read, turned to, flicked through, written in, reached for, loved, and shared, is to give them a densely packed, prettily presented, permanently flowering opportunity for wonderment. During the last six years at Open Books, I have had the delight of watching books light a fire of joy, pride, and excitement in thousands of readers of all ages, from toddlers picking out picture books to grandparents finding special copies of their favorite novels from generations ago. The specifics may be unexpected, but the ramifications ripple down the generations: for, as has been rightly observed, a book is a present you can open again and again.

This post is part of a blog series inspired by World Give Day and hosted by GiveForward. To find other posts in this series please visit or follow us on Twitter: @worldgiveday.


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