Dear Readers: I’m happy to take a tiny break from hosting your questions, as I devote this column to my annual literacy campaign, now in its 13th year. This is where I urge readers to celebrate the gift-giving season by putting “A Book on Every Bed.”

All literacy starts with a story, and the inspiring story behind this effort came to me from Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough, whose charmed and productive life was entirely shaped by the sharing of books and stories, starting early in his childhood.

Mr. McCullough died this past August at the age of 89, and many of the tributes to his life and work mentioned the impact his parents and grandparents had on his life and eventual vocation, by exposing him to literature, reading aloud, and treasuring books in the household.

McCullough personally granted me permission to use his own Christmas story as a way to inspire readers to give books as gifts during the holiday season.

Every Christmas morning, starting in his very early childhood, David and his three brothers would awaken to a wrapped book placed at the end of their bed. Santa had left the gift there, and it was the very first present unwrapped and enjoyed on Christmas morning.


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