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Lilly Gonzalez points to herself as an example of how a love of reading can pull someone out of difficult circumstances. Her family struggled when she was growing up in Pharr, a town on the southern border near McAllen, but her parents, Mexican immigrants, always made sure she had books.
“They took me to the library a lot. I would go maybe once every two weeks and I would check out as many books as I could,” Gonzalez said. “When I wasn’t reading books, I was devouring the backs of shampoo bottles. I would read anything that you put in front of me.”