I bet you still remember that book, don’t you?
I do. It was Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. I still remember the feeling of finding her in the pages of a book, like I’d stumbled upon a fictional best friend and soul sister. In many ways, Pippi was everything I aspired to be – loud, audacious, and fiercely independent. She questioned authority and rules. She told marvelous and colorful tales of her adventures, and it was never quite clear or mattered which ones were real and which ones were made up. She marched to the beat of her own drummer, had a pet monkey and carried her horse. Meeting Pippi on those pages was like encountering the favorite parts of myself that I wanted to embody more fully.
Pippi is the one who turned me on to reading. And made me hungry for more.
It was this memory of being lit up as a young reader that made me burst into tears this weekend. It was this memory – and my deep gratitude for having experienced the power of books – that helped me finalize a decision I’d been wanting to make. Let me explain.
When my book Unscripted: A Woman’s Living Prayer was released at the end of last year, I set the intention of donating the proceeds from a particular month of sales to benefit women and girls somehow. I’ve done things like this before and it always feels good to plug me (and by extension, the entire SheChanges community) into the greater good. Philanthropy, at its core, is about our love of humanity. But to be honest, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve organized my community around a gift. And after a really intense year of writing, editing and re-writing something that was so deeply personal (an inherently privileged opportunity), I was hungry to shift that inner focus to the larger world and give back.
I had my sights set on March as the month I would donate sales since it’s Women’s History month, but as the days in February flew by, I still wasn’t finding the organization that grabbed me as the best fit – and let’s be honest, there are so many organizations doing so much amazing work in the world, it’s almost overwhelming to choose just one.
Until I found it on Sunday.I stumbled on the Room to Read site after doing a search for organizations that buy books for girls. Like finding Pippi way back when, I felt lit up by this organization that is all about creating world change by educating children – specifically by focusing on literacy and gender equality. Reading about the work they do in Asia and Africa (programs, libraries, publishing, and working with educators) literally took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes because it was giving voice to a desire that lived right at the center of my heart.
Philo+Anthropy = Love+Humanity
Ergo my tears (I was moved) and my decision (I was committed) to donate 100% of the proceeds of my book sales this March to Room to Read. My 13-year old son happened to be coming down the stairs while I was coming up them, wiping away my tears. We stopped in the middle and he asked me if I was okay. With fresh tears and a happy grin on my face, I said:
“I found it! I found the organization!”
And I told him the story I just told you. He got teary-eyed and wore a happy grin, too, as we felt the electric juice of a sound decision swirling around us.
But I can’t do this alone. Just making a decision isn’t enough. Our action is. So here is my heartfelt ask of you.
March is Women’s History month. And you and I have benefited from the ideas, efforts and gifts (time, talent, and/or treasures) of countless brave and courageous women before us who tirelessly created change, opened doors, and fought for the freedoms that many of us take for granted today.
Let’s rally and give a gift this month to pay homage to all those women who have come before us to pave the way. And let’s give it to all those girls who are growing up after us. Let’s work together be a link in the chain of women.
Let’s give a nod to our history and a boost to our future as women.
If you’re with me, here’s how I envision this looking:
For every sale of my book in the month of March, I will donate 100% of the royalties I receive as the author to Room to Read. To be clear, each time I sell a book, I receive $15.16. So if 50 copies of my book are sold, we will have raised $758 that I will donate on our behalf to Room to Read. If 100 copies are sold, we raise $1,516! How cool would THAT be!?
I know a huge number of you have already purchased Unscripted, and I’m so very honored and grateful. The response to my book has truly been overwhelming and has touched my heart. To those women, since many of you have read the book and know what it’s about, I’d ask you to consider buying it for another woman in your life. Surprise her with a gift from you in honor of Women’s History month and know that when you do, you’re not only loving up another woman, you’re also giving a gift that will support literacy and gender equality in education for girls in Asia and Africa.
If you have been meaning to buy the book, but have not yet had the chance, now would be a great time to make the purchase. As I floated this idea out there with some women, I’ve heard many of you say this would feel deliciously good to do, even though you have a pile of other books in your “to read” stack. And as you invest in yourself, know that you will also be making an investment in a girl’s education in Asia and Africa.
So are you with me?
I’m so excited to make this happen, but I can’t do it alone.
We can do this. Together. Always.
So let’s do it, shall we?
Let’s put our philos into gear and make some anthropy history!
Love and gratitude to you.