Thursday, October 25th, 2007 by

When UAB medical student Valerie Gribben discovered in her sophmore year that her mother had breast cancer, she spent hours reading aloud to her from The Emperor’s Realm (the sequel to Fairytale, due out from NewSouth Books in fall 2008) to distract her from the discomfort of chemotherapy and concerns about her health. In so doing, Gribben realized the idea for Healing Words, a program in which students with a wide range of majors read to patients at local Birmingham hospitals, pediatric medical facilities, and nursing homes.

Healing Words grew quickly, with over 150 student volunteers participating today. The Alabama Literacy Council is a major supporter. It donates books for the cause and also offers a training session to incoming volunteers. Says Gribben, “I have long known that reading stirs the imagination. It took only my mother’s illness to help me understand the value of the human voice and literature to the healing process.”

Learn more about Healing Words at their website,