Tell Us Your Story: "Twilight at 2 AM"

Finalist 10 of 14

WINNER! Congratulations Sofia Gallo!

I remember the day when I was sitting with my friends in my big school in Bogota, Colombia. It was sunny and there were trees around. We were all sitting outside on the stairs. They were talking about all these new books that were coming out and that they were all reading, including the Twilight series. As I listened, I started feeling upset. I knew I would never be able to get these books in audio — audio books were already hard to get, and most of the available ones were children's stories, like Cinderella. Since that option was out of the question, I thought about asking my father to read the print copy to me. However, it would be a very long time before he had some free time to read to me. My friends kept on talking about how awesome it was and I just wanted to read it, now! However, like usual, I didn't know where or when I would be able to. I needed audiobooks because I was born with optic nerve hypoplasia, which means that I am visually impaired. Unfortunately, I didn't really know any Braille at that time — except for grade one Spanish Braille, which didn't really help much, especially because it was almost impossible to find any kind of document in Braille, let alone a new book like Twilight.

My mom, who had moved to New York City two months before, was coming back to Colombia for a visit. She had a surprise for me — two CD audiobooks, and they were some of the books my friends were talking about! I couldn't believe she had brought such an amazing surprise for me, because these books were so expensive. I couldn't get audiobooks very often because when they were available, they were very expensive. So I usually only got a few at a time, and they would be finished within the week because I was overexcited. So, I was very excited to start reading the presents from my mom, right away. However, I had a big disadvantage. I could only read them at home, or at school, where I had a computer or a CD player. This sucked, because sometimes I would go to work with my dad and have absolutely nothing to do. I wished I had my books to read, but it would be too hard to carry an entire computer, or a CD player, to his office. Since this technology was so heavy, I couldn't read as often as I wanted to. Instead of reading, I would spend five hours sitting at a table, drawing silly lines on a piece of paper, waiting for my dad to finish his work and get out of there.

All of this has changed since I moved to New York City to join my mom in summer 2008. A big part of this change has been using Bookshare. Bookshare has helped me a lot because now I can get books whenever I want them and listen to them wherever I want to, without carrying anything heavier than a Stream that my school bought. I can start reading them right away, which is what I like to do. It is very fast - it only takes about 5 minutes to download a book and put it right into my Stream. This is great because sometimes I need books for school right away and teachers don't always tell me ahead of time. I don't have to wait until the books arrive or to spend a lot of money a month buying books. What I also like about Bookshare is that I can find most of the good, new books I want — all of the new books my friends are always bragging about. There is a lot of variety, so you can usually find what you want and need. Now that I am almost done learning English grade two Braille, I know that I can get Braille books from Bookshare as well. I know that without Bookshare, my life would be harder than it has to be.

This fall, I sat on my mom's cherry-red sofa at 2 AM. I was listening to Twilight on my new borrowed Stream. I had been sitting there since 7 PM, listening to this amazing story. I heard my mom calling me to go to bed, but I didn't want to. I wanted to stay right there and read longer than I ever had before. Since this night, I have been reading more than I ever could have. It's impossible to describe the feeling of enjoying a book, just listening for hours at a time. I love being able to have my books right there when I want them. I passed from barely having one audiobook, to having books wherever and whenever I want — and not just audiobooks, but Braille books too! Double option — how cool is that! Bookshare has really changed my life.

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