Who hasn’t had a “good read” that left you feeling satisfied, exhilarated, alarmed or better informed? Most of us have felt these emotions if we’ve experienced the joy of a rewarding book.
It’s an experience that we should pass on, and the idea and the benefits of reading carry special meaning tomorrow. March 2 is Reading Across America Day, a celebratory event that the National Endowment for the Humanities created in 1998 to motivate and foster a love of reading for children.
They chose March 2 because it’s the birthday of the beloved children's author Dr. Seuss, however, the sentiment is celebrated all week long. In fact, just this week, I read to several different classrooms to mark this special day.
Throughout the country, teachers, public officials, athletes, parents and grandparents will be extolling the benefits of reading, which ultimately boils down to a simple truth: It’s fun.
In addition to the fun and feeling of satisfaction when you read to your children, an overwhelming amount of research supports the practice. Reading and being read to result in higher literacy test scores, it helps expose the reader to a broader, different universe. And once it becomes a habit, it’s one that can stick with you forever.
The joy of reading was always deeply ingrained in me by my mother when I was growing up. Her message to me was simple - by opening a book, you can go anywhere in the world…one page at a time. It's one of the reasons that I started my yearly, “Jump Into Reading” Contest for children in grades 1-4. Reading not only gives the ability to transport ourselves through the annals of time, but it also allows us to expand our horizons - and hopefully our thinking - in a more constructive way.
One of the highlights of any day of mine is the time I spend with my children reading a story. I encourage you to do the same. And, if you don’t have children of your own, volunteer your time at a local Boys & Girls Club or some other community organization and read to the children there. I can’t think of a better way to promote Read Across America than demonstrating by example. If the children, to whom you’re hopefully reading to, see you engrossed in a book, I call that leadership by example. That’s my take, what’s yours?
Facts About Children's Literacy
- Twenty-six percent of children who were read to three or four times in the last week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet, compared with 14% of children who were read to less frequently.
Children who were read to more frequently were also more likely to:
- Count to 20 or higher than those who were not (60% versus 44%)
- Write their own name (54% versus 40%).
Read or pretend to read (77% versus 57%).
- Only 53% of children ages 3 to 5 were read to daily by a family member. Children below the poverty line are less likely to read every day than are children in families above the poverty level.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics