I love having my kids sit in my lap, touch the glossy pages of a picture book and snuggle close as magical words tumble from my mouth straight into their imaginations. A trip to library is cause for great rejoicing and cause for me to skip my arms workout since I routinely max out my thirty-five item limit on my library card. The librarians only slightly raise their eyebrows as they see the massive stack I schlep up to the counter every other week.
Today after lunch as we were going about our reading ritual, my five-year-old was nestled in my lap, drinking in the words of a particularly wonderful book. The book, Boxes for Katje, told the tale of a little girl living in Holland right after WWII who received a care package from America. The book carefully catalogued the extreme lack of resources this girl, her family and her entire village experienced. Then, it explained how another girl, from America, the land of plenty, marshaled the forces in her town to alleviate some of that need.
I was so struck by the goodness of both girls–Katje, who immediately shared all she was sent, and Rosie who kept hearing of needs and filling them– that my heart welled up and found its way into my tear ducts.
After finishing the book, my five-year-old looked me in my still-glistening eyes and said, “We’re so blessed, Mommy, aren’t we? We have food to eat, and warm clothes to wear, and blankets for our beds and toys to play with. I want to help someone like Rosie did. Can I get some of my money for the Christmas Jar?”
As my Kindergartener ran into her room to retrieve her purse with her small savings, I reflected on how another book had caused our family to start a tradition about five or so years ago. Every year we fill a Christmas Jar with cash all year long and decide, through prayer, who should receive the funds from it. It has anonymously gone to neighbors, family members, charities that help purchase livestock, and a local family shelter.
While my five-year-old enthusiastically placed her contribution into the jar, I gave thanks for good literature. I could have lectured all day on giving and helping others, but a well-told story from the author’s family history accompanied by beautiful artwork ignited a desire in my daughter’s heart that all my words would have never done. Read to your kids. You’re changing their lives, and perhaps even the lives of countless others, for the better.