Ariela was never without a book. If she liked a book in a series, she’d read the entire series back-to-back. She was in the middle of Xenocide, the third sequel to Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, on the day she died. She loved fantasy and science-fiction. The good fight against evil, and anything is possible. Characters travel across time. The sick are healed, and the blind can see.

Ariela was visually impaired. Initially, we read aloud to her. Then, she listened to audiobooks. She amassed a large collection of books on tape and CD, mostly gifts from friends who knew how much she liked to read. Later, she used Bookshare, an online service for people with print disabilities. She could download almost any book she wanted. One word at a time, in bold black letters, marched across her computer screen. I often sat beside her and watched her face as she read.

Gary and I tried to encourage her to read the classics. When she read The Hunger Games, Gary suggested she read The Grapes of Wrath, “if you want to learn what hunger was like in this country.” When she finished it, she returned to sci-fi.

When she read Twilight, I said, “If you want to read a really great gothic romance, you should read Jane Eyre.” She became very distressed when she read about Rochester in the burning room, and she smiled when he finally kissed Jane. I think that was her favorite book.

I gave all of her recorded books to the California School for the Blind. The director was one of Ariela’s favorite teachers.

Last month, a charter school for underprivileged children, grades K through 8, opened in a nearby town. Ariela had about sixty children’s books left. Her Girl Scout troop’s book drive, depleted her shelves of hard covers and paperbacks years ago. Sixty books wouldn’t fill a new school library. So, I posted a message on my town’s listserv. “Looking for Children’s Books.” Within a week, six hundred books were on my doorstep. Thank you neighbors for sharing the love of reading.

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