Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wanna Change Someone's Life?

I love the way serendipity works--and it works especially well on the Internet. You're searching for one thing, which leads you to another thing, and then another, and suddenly you stumble across something totally unrelated that turns out to be wonderful.

Here's something wonderful that has the power--literally--to change a person's life. I will spare you the details (although I will put links at the end of this post so you can read said details if you like) and give you the summary: a library in the Los Angeles County Juvenile Hall System is trying to acquire books so that 300 incarcerated young men, aged 12-18, who have signed up for voluntary writing classes, will have something to read. A Wish List of approved paperbacks has been set up through an independent bookstore. There are 2700 adolescent boys locked up in the L.A. County juvenile system, so the hope is that many more than this initial 300 will take advantage of the library.

I'd like to suggest you give up a latte or two this week and participate in this "Book Fair for Boys." Even with shipping, most titles will cost you less than $10 or $15, and that small investment will be used over and over and over again to introduce young men to the power of words, to the awareness that somebody cares, to the idea that there just might be a better path for them to pursue, to the realization that the power to change their life lies literally within their hands.

Think about the impact books have made on your life, then think about the impact you can have on a teenage boy who still has time to make a choice about what he does with his life. Then:

  1. Go to http://www.powells.com/, click on Wish List at the top right corner of the page, and enter guyslitwire@gmail.com in the space provided. Click on "Guys Lit Wire" and it will take you to the approved Wish List.
  2. Select the book you'd like to send and follow the prompts to put it in your shopping cart and check out. You'll recognize many of the titles; it's a good mix of classic and contemporary books in multiples genres. Some of the boys read at age level and beyond; others are still at picture book level. The Wish List was compiled with an eye toward building the foundation of a library that can offer boys something of interest at every reading level.
  3. Enter this for the shipping address:
Eve Porinchak
IOW
5850 Brookline Lane
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

You can add a gift card at no extra charge.

I sent Sheep, a book by Valerie Hobbs for middle grade readers, about a border collie looking for love and purpose to help him find his way. I hope its pages get worn completely out.

Read more about this project:
Guys Lit Wire - The group that initially decided to help the library acquire books. GLW is a blog maintained by a group of librarians, teachers, and writers that suggests great books for guys.
Inside Out Writers - The group sponsoring the writing classes for the L.A. County juvenile system. IOW is a nonprofit organization that utilizes volunteer teachers and writers to help juvenile offenders express themselves through writing and reading their work in a nonjudgemental environment.

Friday, May 8, 2009

My Interview on Write On! Online

Thanks to Debra Eckerling and her Write On! Online support group for probing into what makes me tick...or, rather, write...in this special Mother's Day interview.

I am NOT writing this weekend; I'm bookfesting at the Blue Ridge Book & Author Showcase tomorrow, then spending Sunday frolicking with my big, brawny boys. Had hoped to go for a hike in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, but my right knee feels like someone wrenched it in opposite directions, so I'm thinking that's probably not a good plan. Instead, I'm settling for stuffed French toast at IHOP after church, then a lively afternoon at Hollywild. (Please, God, can we have just three hours of sunshine?) I know there are people who think keeping animals in captivity is immoral, but if I were a beast, I think I'd take three squares a day, a roof over my head, free medical care, and ongoing adulation over struggling to stay alive in some steamy jungle any day of the week!

Speaking of beasts in captivity, have you seen that news show on TV of elephants who paint? Here's a YouTube video, and here's a post with some additional information. I swear the elephants seem to be enjoying themselves--and given that their previous job was dragging logs around a Thai forest, I imagine they are! Elephants are like gorillas to me, in that they have eyes that seem to reflect great emotional depth and intellect; I have no problem imagining them being very much aware and appreciative of the aesthetics of their surroundings.

To mamas everywhere--be you elephant, gorilla, human, or otherwise, have a wonderful weekend. A loving mother is the greatest advantage a child can ever have, so if your mama is still around, tell her how much you appreciate her...and carpe matriarch!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

If You Were 18 again...


...what would YOU want for graduation? Inquiring minds want to know! Seems like there's a bumper crop of high school graduates this year; all us middle-aged mamas are wondering what to give to honor the occasion. Yes, we know cash is always nice, but that's sooooo not creative. And, yes, we know the latest/greatest techno toy would be welcome, but that's soooo not affordable! Most of us who graduated in the 60s and 70s received baby doll pajamas (remember those? my big sister got 22 pairs!); I'm thinking that may not be on the Top Ten list for today's grads.


So tell me: what's the coolest graduation gift you got? Speak up! Only a few more shopping days!