When you give a girl a book, she's going to want you to read it to her, more than once. She'll probably ask for a few more before she lets you go. It may seem like you are always reading her something, but don't worry. Before long, she will be reading them to you. And she'll be so excited to show you her new skill that she will read everything from street signs to restaurant menus. She'll beg for trips to the bookstore or the library where finding the perfect book is a process. Her light will be on all hours of the night unless you turn it off and hide the books. She'll quickly go from picture books to chapter books, from 20 pages to 200.
When you give a girl a book, she won't be able to put it down, because when you give a girl a book, you give her the world. Not just the world you know, but worlds you can't even imagine. She'll get swept up in sentences, empowered by chapters. She'll learn new words and new points of view. As she gains knowledge, she'll thirst for more.
Sometimes she'll smile and laugh as pages turn faster. Sometimes she'll wipe her face so the tears don't damage the pages. Often she'll say she can't stop just yet. She'll be late for dinner or slow getting out the door because she just needs to know what happens next.
If a book is lost or ruined, she'll act as if the world is ending, because to her, one is. Some books will be kept pristine and perfect. Even a fold in a page is a crime. Others, however, will be fighting to stay together with tearing pages and words in every margin. This contrast may be odd, but it makes perfect sense to her. No book is the same. No two books will ever hold the same experience or meaning. Some need to be preserved and revered, while others need to be reread and marked up. It's just the way it is.
When you give a girl a book, you give her an escape, a way to take a break from a world that is trying to knock her down. You've given her a coping mechanism that doesn't harm anyone. You've given her a way to put aside the bullies and the unfair circumstances and pretend, for just a minute, she's a fairy princess or a pirate warrior. You've also given her solutions to problems she both has and hasn't faced yet. You've given her access to voices that will help her find her own.
When you give a girl a book, you give her a teacher, a model, an escape, an experience. You give her questions and you give her answers. You give her a portal to worlds unknown, a time machine to the past and to the future. You give her a key to her own imagination and show her what people can do, what she can do, with the right words and the right audience.
When you give a girl a book, you give her the world, so give a girl a book and watch her make it her own.