Malcolm X, a leader in the early days of the civil rights movement, once said, “My alma mater was books, a good library. ... I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.” 

Those of us who love to read understand those feelings. Books can teach us about our past, give us glimpses of our future — real or fantastic. We can learn about the rest of the world without leaving the comfort of home, and we can be transported to other worlds while staying firmly on Earth.

Those who can’t read or don’t like to read are missing so much.

Indeed, astrophysicist Carl Sagan said, “One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.”

Life is a series of adventures, and those found in books supplement those we experience in real life.

Too many children never will experience those adventures contained between the covers of a book, never learn about the past, never travel beyond the confines of home.

But, thanks to a marvelous program sponsored by the United Way of the Brazos Valley and brought to life for the past four years by amazing volunteers and generous businesses and organizations.

On Friday, more than 150 volunteers met at A&M Church of Christ to pack 3,000 “baby bundles,” to be given to new mothers getting ready to their babies home. Each bundle includes a new children’s picture book, a teething toy and several child development pamphlets to help the new parents find answers to the basic questions about baby care.

The hope is the parents will develop a habit of reading to their children from the earliest days at home. Study after study has shown that children whose parents ready to them every day are more likely to become avid readers later in life. As the children learn to read, they can take over reading to their parents.

It is critical that parents do everything they can to encourage their children to read, Children who aren’t able to read at the appropriate level by third grade will fall further and further behind their classmates. Children who don’t read well are more likely to drop out of school and have limited future success.

The baby bundles will be distributed to new mothers at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in College Station and CHI St. Joseph Hospital in Bryan, as well as to delivery centers in Brenham and Jewett.

In the four years the United Way of the Brazos Valley has sponsored the baby bundles, some 10,000 have been assembled. That’s 10,000 babies who have been given the joy of reading.

Each baby bundle costs about $5, which has been covered by generous donations from the Dansby Grant Foundation, Wells Fargo Bank, Junior League of Bryan/College Station, Texas A&M Mays Business School and the Bryan school district. Thank you to them for investing in the future of our newest residents.

Obviously, reading is important to those of us at The Eagle, so it is encouraging to see so much effort to encourage parents to read to their children, giving them a head start to a lifetime of learning and joy.

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