Amy advocates gift of reading this holiday - Newsday

Amy advocates gift of reading this holiday

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Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist. ...

DEAR READERS: Many of us are spending a lot of time this week scurrying around, looking for the "perfect" gift to bestow on family and friends. Looking back through our holiday memories, we realize the best gifts arrive in the form of traditions or objects that we can look at and know exactly where they came from. We invest these simple possessions with meaning and memories.

For the past three years, I have advocated for a gift-giving concept that is simple, straightforward, inexpensive, and that reaps boundless and lifelong rewards.

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Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough once related in an interview that every Christmas morning during his childhood, he and his siblings awoke to the gift of a wrapped book on their beds, delivered in the night by Santa.

Thus was born "A Book on Every Bed." I have teamed with The Family Reading Partnership (familyreading.org) in my hometown of Ithaca, N.Y. With its help, it has spread through libraries, schools, churches and bookstores across this country and beyond.

Here's how it works: You take a book. You wrap it. On Christmas Eve, you leave the book in a place where Santa is likely to find it. When I communicated with McCullough about borrowing his idea, he was very clear: Santa handles the delivery and places the book on a child's bed. In the morning, the children in your household will awaken to a gift that will far outlast any toy: literacy.

No matter who you are or what you do, reading will unlock opportunities, mysteries and passions. When you have a book and the ability to tell, read and share stories, you gain access to the universe of others' imaginations. And if you have a book, you are never alone.

We have probably exceeded our original goal for 1 million children to wake up on Christmas morning to a wrapped book, and we hope for others to continue to spread this tradition in their families and communities.

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