As I remember, my undying passion for literature blossomed during childhood. At the age of seven, my mother’s friend gifted me with a Portuguese copy of the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, and I was undeniably smitten with it. Every morning I browsed through its pages and giggled at the illustrations it contained. Before leaving for school, I hastily stuffed it in my backpack- without my mother’s permission- just so I could show it off to my friends in class. Mother always warned me that I’d ruin it if I took it to school, but, I never listened. I was far too careful to allow anything bad to happen to the first real book I had ever owned.

As a child growing up in the small archipelago of Cape Verde, it was quite difficult to acquire books. There, libraries are rarely accessible and the only books parents can usually afford for their children are the three, thin booklets that are used in schools as textbooks. In my case, I always finished reading those booklets during the first month of the school year and I was always left wanting more. But unfortunately for my mother, “more” was too expensive.

Although my grandfather had a small collection of old, dusty books and documents he had collected while serving in the Angolan civil war, I had little interest in his possessions as they weren’t very “child-friendly”. That is why once I came to own a proper copy of a children’s book, I couldn’t be separated from it.

When I was about eight years old, my mother discovered that a Portuguese ship was scheduled to visit our island and bring along various books that would be sold at cheap prices. I was absolutely thrilled by the news. After that, I adopted a daily habit of reminding my mom that she shouldn’t waste money on buying me snacks for school, encouraging her to instead use the money to buy me books once the ship came by. The ship’s arrival was welcomed with glee as many were excited to see what types of treasures were brought along to our shores. The ship docked at the local pier at night. As I recall it, the boardwalk had been prettily decorated with blinking fairy lights and a few tables on which books were displayed. That day my mom was able to buy me a few books and those books became my best friends.

Now, aged twenty and living in the United States, I no longer have to struggle to find books. Whenever I wish to read something I may simply stroll down to the local library and check out whatever book I’d like to read. I can also simply turn on my tablet and browse through an endless collection of ebooks. Although I am quite happy to now have these choices I am still aware of the fact that other children in my country don’t have such options, and this saddens me. I always attempt to send my unused books to underprivileged people in my country, but, this is clearly not enough to aid all the children in need. For this reason, I like to encourage everyone to donate books to those in need because out there is a child who loves reading but can't do so because they can't afford books.