"This is the first book I remember a children's bookseller handselling me when I was a child. And this is my first library card that a children's librarian helped me apply for.
"These objects--well, they're 50 years old now so maybe they're artifacts by now--changed my life. In many ways, they began my journey that led to this podium today. And more importantly, they began my lifelong love of reading--something I consider to be one of the great gifts of my life. A gift inspired by children's booksellers and children's librarians.
|Allison Hill holding a copy of The Giant Jam Sandwich.|
"Reading has made me more confident, more empathetic, smarter. I have at times been deeply relieved or reassured to see myself in a book, at other times I have been humbled, inspired, or interested to see someone in a book with a completely different experience than my own.
"You all share this gift with children and put them on this path every day. And lately you've been doing it against a headwind of ignorance, bigotry, and fear that ironically could probably be assuaged by reading but instead there are people more interested in taking books out of children's hands. Which means your work putting books into children's hands is more important than ever.
"The next few days are all about you and this gift you give the world and how to ensure that your important work continues."