There was this poster hanging in my junior high: The best vitamin for making friends is B1. You know how sometimes when you read something to yourself, it doesn’t sound the way it sounds when you read it out loud? So the first time I saw it, I was thinking, “Seriously, B1 helps you make friends? My diet must be completely B1 deficient.” Junior high was a lonely time for me.
It didn’t sink in until I looked at the poster again, a close-up of two kittens in a feline-style embrace (because if my education taught me anything, it is that cats are the universal spokesmen, confirming everything from “hang in there!” to “I can haz cheezeburger.”) Be one.
Each night I asked God for friends. I told Him: If I can make a friend, I promise to be one.
It was a promise I took seriously, but unfortunately, friends were not to be for years to come. Plenty of people offered to be my friend, but suspiciously, all these people ended up changing schools or skipping town after only a few days of friendship. Things were not looking good.
So I turned to books, as I’d done since I was a child. In seventh grade I loved those novels about girls with life-threatening illnesses who had mere weeks to live. I read a lot of those. Because of my recent head injury, I was not a fast reader, as I had once been. Maybe that’s why the slim volumes appealed to me, with their tales of characters who, like me, were no longer who they had once been. It was all very pathetic.
But the truth was, it was healing, too. Books have always been the friend I never had, which I think is why YA speaks to me so loudly.
Because now I have friends. In fact, I have lots of friends—more than thirteen-year-old me would have imagined possible. Sometimes even thirty-year-old me can’t believe it’s possible. There are all these people in my life, and I love them all so much, and at night I pray as hard as I can: Help me to be one.
And honestly, sometimes I don’t know how. And sometimes I think that maybe the best way to be that friend is through books. Because sometimes no one person is ever enough. And I truly believe that books can fill that empty space where people can’t reach.
So tomorrow (Thursday, April 14) is YALSA's Support Teen Lit Day. And you can show your support by Rocking the Drop. Tons of YA groups are participating, including the readergirlz Divas and my own rad peeps The Contemps. Here's the plan.
1) Grab this banner, created by David Ostow, and add it to your website or blog.
This obviously isn't the most important part, but it's pretty darn cool looking. Also, if you include it and link back to this post or the Contemps or readergirlz or whatevs then we will all see how we can be this united force of literary friends.
2) Drop a book in any public place (bus seat, park bench, restaurant counter). Wherever someone will find it. Someone who just might have a space inside them that this book might fill.
If you want, you can put this bookplate in the front:
The good thing about including this bookplate is that hopefully people will open the book, see the bookplate, and not worry that someone misplaced their book. Because that would be my worry. Then again, I worry too much.
Oh, and also it spreads the word about Rock the Drop.
3) Then, snap a photo of your drop and email readergirlz AT gmail DOT com with the pic -- they'll be posting lots of pictures of drops happening all over the world.
I am totally planning to do this, because doing it will help me to be one.
But which book to drop? And where? Any ideas?