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One book, two paths....

A simple story about how one book influenced the lives, careers and futures of two teenage girls...

The little blue book was nothing to write home about, judging from its cover.

Indeed, under normal circumstances none of us would have picked this dark colored volume with a simple title embossed in gold, for its dull appearance held no promise of exciting contents and thus had little appeal to the average teenage girl, yet my friend picked it.

Thanks to the old proverb and conventional wisdom, we wereatthe stage when we were learning not to judge a book by its cover.

Day after day, before classesbegan and during break, my friend would be engrossed in the little book. One day, I peeped over her shoulder and we eventually read the together. I too, immediately became absorbed in it. Indeed it was an addictive book.

The book was a compilation of legal cases and a summary of judgements that had set legal precedents over centuries. It was indeed a riveting collection of legal accounts.

We read the book with intrigue and afterevery case, debated themerits and demeritsofthe lawyers'arguments and fairness of the judgements.

The stories were fascinating, not only because of the outcome of each case, but because they were steeped in reality. They were all true accounts of cases that had influenced both history and the legal system. As we turned each page, we were awestruck.

We could not wait for class breaks, when we would be temporarily submerged in the next case and find out what happened next. When we were dismissed from class and went to our respective residences, my friend, bless her heart, would not proceed to the next case without me.

Most interesting though, was the profound impact the book had on our individual lives, careers and subsequent futures. Although we were equally absorbed in the book and read the same stories, we were fascinated by various aspects and intrigued for different reasons. She by the legal aspects and I by the writing.

Someone argued the cases, and someone else recorded them for posterity. We wanted to be those people. The lawyers who made and the scribes who wrote history.

The time we readthat book was just right as we were at the point of making decisions about our futures.It was towards the endof high schooland we hadstarted thinking about and applying for tertiary studies.

I don't know if it was a coincidence, or just pure destiny that influenced our the decisions we made, but thereafter she pursued law and I journalism.

Now, as I ponder, I’m amazed at how one book changed the course of two lives and led them on totally different paths. Of courseother factorsalso influenced our career choices, like parental guidance in my case, but the book’s contribution should not be dismissed.

The rest is history. I’m still writing and am glad I chose this vocation.

The moral of the story?

Encourage girls to read widely. Whether we admit it or not, we are influenced by what we read, among the myriad of factors that affect our thoughts. The exposure girls get from reading molds their thoughts, influences the decisions they make and ultimately determines the course they take in life.

This is well known, but there's no harm in reinforcing it as some basic facts can never be over-emphasized.

I believe one of the best gift parents can give children is exposure so they can make informed decisions. Without exposure, girls will continue to choose the same, safe, well-trodden path. However, with exposure, they can dream big and explore new frontiers. While exposure comes in various forms, books still have a place. They are still among the tools in life's toolbox, hence the need to encourage reading.

So, give girls the tools they need, then let them fly and conquer the world.

How to Get Involved

Donate books to a girls' school or community library and encourage girls to read.

Girl Power
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