Those who live on the street like to read, too.

A bicycle library brings books to the street. Photo: Green Mobility
A bicycle library brings books to the street. Photo: Green Mobility

RECENTLY WHILE SEARCHING through my stored belongings for something else, I came across one of the first books I got as a kid.

Maybe my first book.

Not sure.

You know how conflation can be.

As I recall, it tickled the dickens out of me.

Happened when I received it as a youngster.

Happened when I rediscovered it not too long ago.

Sat right down and flipped through it, read through it.

Both times.

harryNo doubt, since I assume you are a book person, you know what I am talking about.

That is why I was surprised recently when I read a newspaper article about homeless people and a place that has an exceptionally good record of caring for them.

This particular place offers everything from housing and food to counseling and clothes.

The news story, as such stories usually do, noted that this place that serves the homeless always is in need of contributions ranging from money and food to clothing and the time of volunteers.

No surprise there.

But the article also pointed out that there was a need for books.

Caught me off guard, though it shouldn’t have.

Surely books are appreciated by some of those who depend upon this place that serves the homeless.

Just never had occurred to me.

Probably had occurred to you but not to me.

For years, I have given books to all sorts of places, from book drive organizations to Goodwill.

Like perhaps some of you, I also have bought books from some of these places, read them, then donated them back so they can again be sold.

Just a good, easy, natural, charitable thing to do, I figure.

And now I have an additional place for my donated books – this place for the homeless that was the subject of the news article.

Surely we all know about the homeless.

And, sadly, we know the numbers are large – maybe incalculable, although commendable, regular efforts are made to count them.

We know, too, that among them are not just individuals but, in some cases, families – fathers, mothers, children.

Obviously, they do not have much.

Maybe not even bare necessities.

Surely books for some of them would be enriching.

A way to forget, a way to escape the moment.

The way they sometimes do for us.

If we are not among those who already do it, why don’t we send along some of our books into the world of the homeless – yes, into the streets where they dwell — and find out?

Maybe I’ll start with that first book of mine, the one I rediscovered recently.

The book that pointed the way toward all the other books that came my way.

That first book, these other books that put me on a better path.

Perhaps it will find its way into the hands of some girl or boy and for a little while entertain them, distract them from some dreary existence.

Who knows, maybe it will introduce them to the world of books and in some not-small way smooth the streets on which they find themselves.

And point them, guide them, encourage them toward a better place.

Roger Summers is a journalist, essayist and author.

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