Binkies and Books

May 12, 2022 | By Benay Hicks

Last week was my birthday.

In honor of the day, my mother shared a photo of me from when I was a baby that I had never seen before. I’m under my bed, binky in my mouth, and a book in my hand. My mom’s accompanying photo caption read, “From the very beginning, Benay had a love of books. When she disappeared, we would go looking for her under her bed…and find her with a binky or two and her favorite books.”

I’ve always known that books were an important part of my childhood; reading was a constant activity for me and my family. Nearly every room in the house had either a designated bookshelf or stacks of books piled high. But that photo of young me reading under the bed made me pause for a couple of reasons.

First, because of my age. I’m a baby. A baby who is independently choosing to read. Second, I’m under the bed in a space that felt quiet and safe.

What this picture shows is the impact having books in the home from birth can have on a child. Babies want to read and learn. They want to harness the power of literacy and imagination. Because there were children’s books in my home, I was able to choose to read and take ownership of my education from an early age.

And while I don’t remember that specific photo, or the moment at which it was taken, I do remember seeking refuge from the world under the bed. And when I could no longer fit under the bed to read, I would crawl on top of my dresser or snuggle up with books in a fort made out of pillows. Sometimes I would climb trees and read among the branches. I sought out any nook that enabled me to tune out the noise and escape into the pages.

Books allow children the opportunity to navigate the world in a special way; in a safe way.

Seeing the photo of me under the bed with my binkies and my books flooded me with gratitude…and momentum. My birthday wish this year (and every year), is that all babies and children have access to books. And not just books, but also a safe space to quiet the noise of the world and read those books. Because every childhood should be filled with stories, joy, and moments of peace.

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