If you’re reading this one thing is certain: you can read. That gives you an advantage over several million people in the world and at least one US President. You’re lucky. The cliché regarding book smarts is true: education really is the road out of poverty. You can give people a lift. Or a map. Or lend them a car, in book form. The car’s a metaphor, see. You could also give them a metaphorical bike which is an environmentally friendlier metaphor and negates the need for metaphorical carbon credits. Give books to people, that’s the point here.
We are currently living in the UN’s Literacy Decade. Launched in 2003 and running til 2012, this is the decade where we tackle the 776 million illiterate people without access to education. So here’s what we can do:
Statistics invented by me while writing this sentence suggest for every book owned and re-read we probably own two more that we’ll only read once. We can give them to people who will actually make use of them and give ourselves considerably less to dust. We can donate books to literacy groups or prison libraries in our own countries. We can donate books to international literacy groups to help populate libraries in developing countries. Postage is hefty so we could also donate cash for books to be bought overseas and donate our books to charity shops funding international literacy programmes.
We’ll share potential knowledge, to be turned into potentially life-changing changes. Give a dictionary to a literacy group and turn someone into a teacher. Give an anatomy textbook and turn someone into a doctor. Give a Marian Keyes book and turn someone into a self-obsessed 30-something looking for love in all the wrong places and spouting big-knicker cliché like it’s still original. Your bookcase is the road out of poverty. Give it the once over, take out the stuff you don’t want, and do something smart with it.