My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Silver Bullet: Helping Reading Rainbow's Kickstarter

Cracked.com Learn some shit while you yuk.
Our Reading Rainbow Fundraiser lost some steam after its first week. And when I say "lost some steam" I mean "pulled over to the side of the road at one of those truck stops to maybe just go to the bathroom and grab a bag of chips from one of the vending machines and ended up asleep until morning."

Given the momentum of the first week I probably let myself get too excited. After making nearly $180 (that's $60 to go to the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter), I let my imagination run wild with images of sauntering into the Oakland Library with the good news that their subscription would be covered, and now all we had to do was buy some cheap tablets so kids could watch it.  

Awwwww yissss.

Unfortunately, after that first week, I was starkly reminded of Writing About Writing's very modest financial realities. If I could somehow drum up hundreds of dollars, I probably wouldn't be averaging a dollar an hour. In the following two weeks we've only made a couple of dollars in ad revenue and even less in donations.

However, I'm not here to beg again like a broken record. I will tell you why this matters so much to me.

We live in a world with one or two problems. Maybe you've noticed a couple. Perhaps. Most of the time, for most people, the best you can do not to avoid getting overwhelmed by how fucked up everything seems is to remember that you can't possibly fix everything. The best we can do is to sink our teeth into one little problem like a starving vampire and never let go, even though sometimes that leads to a bunch of people with pet projects all competing for resources like The Hunger Games of worthy causes.

No not THAT silver bullet!
The kind that kills werewolves.
Wh-  Where did you find this new picture-finding intern?
I know the idea that "this" is a silver bullet or "that" is a silver bullet is an overdone and trite cliché, but I really do think that basic literacy is one of those few vector points that can solve SO many problems. Kids who learn to love books and read have more opportunities, they do better in school (because so much of school involves reading) which helps them do better in life. They have more ability to solve problems, and a better sense of when something is a problem and why. Whatever someone tries to do in this world, they're probably going to be better at it if they know how to read.

And I don't just mean pass a literacy test, but really, really read.

And it doesn't just end with a better education for that literate peep. The benefits reverberate through things like their health, their understanding of the world, their ability to empathize with others, their ability to articulate their own perspectives, and eventually it influences their children's lives and love of books as well.

Even their potential ability to solve some of those other problems plaguing the world.

I don't think Reading Rainbow is going to solve world hunger or nuclear proliferation or antibiotic resistant bacteria. Then again....I already know a lot of people who have come up with brilliant solutions to huge social problems. And many of those people came from worlds where their lives could have gone very differently. And the reason they didn't fall through the cracks or do drugs or get involved in gangs or whatever was because they learned to love reading as a kid.

We may never know whose lives we will fundamentally change by getting a child turned on to reading. It's the butterfly effect. In fact, it's the butterfly in the sky effect.

While I love books, and I love reading, and I love the idea of turning kids on to both, I also think this is a bigger project. This isn't just "my thing" because I'm a word nerd trying to proliferate my species or because I want to harvest a generation of blog readers or something. The reason I was giving to libraries before Lavar Burton ever started his Kickstarter was because, in my own small way, I'm trying to save the world.

I know. I know. "Save the world." What a crock! That sounds too big. It sounds too pretentious. It fills up the room with bombast like a melodramatic movie or video game, so you don't dare say it out loud. You just whisper it, and cradle it in your hands. And you don't show people because it is so fragile that their laughter might rip it apart. But you also don't give up because nothing ever came of not bothering.

So please don't forget that for the next week (seven days) 1/3 of everything you donate to Writing About Writing will go to the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter. I also have two donors who have promised to match what I donate. That means for every donation you give, W.A.W. will get 2/3 of the amount and the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter will get 100% of the amount.

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