On a Personal Note (Holiday Giving Edition)

December 1, 2022 | By Frank Bruni, New York Times

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Whenever people ask me how to become better writers, I tell them to become better readers.

Yes, they should write and revise and then revise and write some more. They should practice. That’s crucial.

But the way they’ll know, on a gut level, if they’re choosing the right words, fashioning the right phrases and finding the right rhythm is by having ingested and internalized countless examples of writing done right. It’s the wellspring of vocabulary, judgment, confidence. Reading fuels writing no less than carbohydrates do running.

But that’s only some of what it does. It jump-starts thoughts. It puts the brain into gear. It fires the imagination. All told, the diverse and profound benefits of reading make it a cornerstone of opportunity. So if we want to give more people the best shot possible at secure, healthy and happy futures and attaining their dreams, we need to get books into more children’s hands and homes.

Fortunately, there are many local and national groups devoted to doing just that.

One of them, near me, is Book Harvest, in Durham, N.C. According to its website, it has given more than 1.8 million books to children and families. The importance of that? I’ll defer to words on that website: “Eighty percent of brain development happens in the first three years of life. Imagine the possibilities for all children when they grow up surrounded by books and stories, words and ideas — starting at birth.”