Friday, February 8, 2013

Blessed are the Children of the Bookworm

Reading was a big deal in our family when I was growing up. It wasn't just reading for the sake of completing book reports at school. It was reading for the simple idea of it. In every household of the family there were stacks of books, all of which had been read by one or more family members. The adult women of the family would share books back and forth, trading their favorite authors like commodities in the grain market. The value of each author would rise and fall with the collective opinion of the readers. The adult men would read their books in solitude and generally keep their opinions to themselves. My grandfather's favorite was Louis L'Amour and other western authors. Both of my uncles are avid readers as well. My cousins, both of my sisters, me, and even my brother read.

I remember my mother read to me and my next oldest sister every chance she had. It is one of my favorite childhood memories. My two favorite stories she had read to us were Stuart Little and The Velveteen Rabbit. My sister and I shared a room across the hall from our mother's room. After all of us kids were in bed, my mom would spend at least a half an hour reading, sometimes longer if the story was particularly good before she went to sleep at night.

Albert Einstein is quoted as "If you want your children to be intelligent read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Children need to be encouraged to read. Studies show that children who are read to while still in the formative years have an easier time in school, a larger vocabulary, critical thinking skills, and the ability to reason and imagine. Children who are read to and grow into independent readers also become better decision makers as they are not easily persuaded by the opinions of others.

I want to share with you today a few resources on children and reading:

The Pew Report: "Younger Americans' Reading and Library Habits" published in October 2012.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library: Free books for young children and more. I signed up both of my grandchildren for this program, and they each received a free age appropriate book every month. 

The Global Fund for Children: Books for Kids project. The GFC project donates children's books to community-based literacy programs.

It is my hope in these days of visual entertainment, parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, and all who are involved in the lives of children will pass on the importance of reading the written word to the children of the world; the future of our world.