As a young girl, I loved biographies. And out of the dozens I read, three water pumpwomen came to hold special places in my heart–Dolley Madison, Marie Curie, and Helen Keller.

So I got weepy-eyed reading today about the statue of Helen Keller that was unveiled at the Capitol on October 6. (Click here for story from CNN).

The personal soft spots of my heart, though, are not enough to warrant a posting here. A connection with literacy is.

The statue depicts Helen at the water pump.

“It’s the moment when Keller realized meanings were hidden in the manual alphabet shapes Sullivan had taught her to make with her hands,” writes CNN.

That’s what literacy is about–unlocking the meaning in the abstract representations, whether they be hand movements or squiggles on a page.

It changed Helen’s life, and after that, she was forever changing the world in her own ways, big and small.

We do the same for children and adults alike, every time we take them a step closer to unlocking meaning that’s hidden in language in all its forms.

It’s why Helen still moves us, decades after her death. And why stories of librarians and children move us, like this one from NPR. And stories about camels and burros that carry books into places where no books exist move us (read Muktar and the Camels by Janet Graber).

It’s the power of language.