In my April release, THE PRETEND PROPOSAL, my heroine, Elizabeth Morris, heads up a nonprofit organization aimed at
helping illiterate and semi-illiterate adults learn to read. Her mission is near and dear to my heart. As a writer and avid reader, it pains me to think that so many people are unable to read—either for enjoyment or simply to function fully in society.
Last summer when I attended the Romance Writers of America’s annual convention in New York City, I participated in that organization’s massive book signing. Harlequin, as well as the publishers of the other writers, generously donated books to be signed and then sold. All of the money raised went to combat illiteracy.
I was proud to participate in the event, which raises tens of thousands of dollars each summer that are then put to good use. Romance readers stood in line, in some cases for hours, awaiting their turn to come into the ballroom where the event was held. It was amazing and a testament to the power and pull of the written word.
Right now, my son Will is learning to read. He’s in the first grade, and, unlike my other son, reading has not come as easily for him. But finally, in just the past few weeks, it’s all started to click. He’s gone from painstakingly sounding out words, to knowing most by sight. Listening as he adds inflection and makes sense of them in a sentence is a thrill for me. I imagine it is the same for other parents watching their children discover the joy of reading.
Of course, reading isn’t only a joy; it is a necessity and the very foundation of all learning. My hat is off to teachers who ignite the flame, parents and others who then fan it on; and organizations such as RWA that do their part to ensure help is available for those who are struggling in the dark.
This year the RWA Literacy For Life signing is being held during their national conference in Anaheim, California. If you’re in the area, it’s all happening on July 25th in the Anaheim Convention Center.