Do you remember the story that helped you believe in yourself? Well, when was the last time you believed in that book? For all of the power held between their pages, books can be helpless creatures. Without readers, books become bricks to build or shapes to stop doors or a flat surface in which to write a letter to your best friend. They need you to believe in them right back.
You see, there are some people who believe that books will harm you. They can’t see how those same books have sprouted from the hands and souls of writers, those who want to spark a flame in your mind, to heal your broken heart. All of those people believe in you enough to craft something out of nothing, something you can call your own. Writers know how important your stories are.
There are people in every corner of the world who will try to tell you not to see and hear the things happening around you. They will try to keep your noses out of some books, and they’ll instead redirect you to look through school bus windows. Those other people will never understand because they’ve never cracked the spine of a new book and heard it breathe for the first time — a newborn’s first gasp of life. They’ve never felt the responsibility of something as intangible and important as a story.
But you have, right?
I know you know about growing up, about plastic cups filled with beer or whiskey or whatever else can be used to drown out pain. Maybe you’ve just seen those things or maybe you’ve held them in your hand. Or better yet, maybe you’ve read about them. Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of tasting the booze between sweet sixteen lips, you sampled through a voracious literary appetite? Your books think so. They are ready to take you to parties and kingdoms and graveyards. They are willing to take you anywhere as long as you believe. That’s your ticket. That’s your fee. Just believe.
Some days, your books sit there and think about things, just like you. They wonder why we let girls struggle alone with weight and rape and the utter pain of a broken heart. They ponder the predicament boys still suffer, often in silence, because it’s not acceptable for them to feel. Those stories stashed between twin covers convince themselves that there will be a day when we don’t treat each other like we don’t matter. They stop and think about the disintegration of categories and stereotypes and gender norms that try to negate the freedom of being free. They still wonder why we call our teens young adults when we don’t let them behave like adults who are young. Your books wonder and think and dream of a better world because they believe in you.
So please don’t give away your hunger for words trailed across a page like spaghetti or wound around the mind like pasta around the tines of a fork. Don’t forget to believe in magic and wonderful words that broaden the mind and make the world beautiful and true.
You see, I am a believer in books and words and stories. I am a writer. I am a reader. And I was a girl who walked down school hallways with bullies and wounds that took too much time to heal. But you see, I did not become like other girls on the news. I did not become a statistic. Books rescued me, and I’ve been trying to rescue them right back ever since. I believe in books, and I hope you will, too.