Monday, May 7, 2012

Give a Kid a Book

Post by Jenny

If you feel something special in the air this morning, perhaps it's because Children's Book Week begins today. Established in 1919,  it is "the longest-running literacy initiative in the country." Together with Every Child a Reader and the Children's Book Council, this week celebrates the importance of books and reading in kids' lives.

I saw this firsthand recently when I volunteered to work the midday shift at the cash register for my son’s elementary school Scholastic Book Fair. Business was pretty slow until lunch time, when a pack of third-graders descended upon me with moist dollar bills crumpled in their hands, sandwich baggies heavy with coins, and a hundred simultaneous questions. Did we have (fill in the blank)? Would I hold (fill in the blank) for them until tomorrow? Could (fill in the blank) be ordered? Would I help them count their money?–which they then proceeded to spill out in jingling heaps on the table. By the time lunch was over, I had handled more quarters than a toll-booth attendant at rush hour.

It was so great to see kids buying books. And most of them weren’t using crisp twenties from mom’s wallet. They paid with their hard-earned allowance and—given their ages and the gaps in their smiles—tooth-fairy money. Not to be outdone, parents and teachers bought books, too. Stacks of books. Board books, easy readers, books in Spanish, mysteries, science fiction. Books to use in classrooms. Books to give as gifts.

Summer is coming, and hopefully we all remember how great it was to be a kid stretched out in a shady spot reading a book just for the fun of it. So, here’s my challenge to you wonderful readers and writers: in honor of Children's Book Week, do something to get a book into the hands of a child. Purge your son's or daughter’s bookshelf (with his/her permission, of course. I’m sure we’ve all learned that lesson.) and drop off the extras at a daycare or preschool. Take books to a baby shower. Visit your local bookstore and buy a book for the neighbor kid who waters your flowerpots. Donate to an organization such as BookTrust, which works with Scholastic to provide low-income kids with the opportunity to purchase 2 or 3 books a month.

While you’re at it, pick up a great summer read for yourself, too.

Do you remember being given a book you loved as a kid?


Susan Oloier said...

I used to teach 3rd grade and was also a reading specialist. I love books. My kiddos love books. So this is a wonderful posts. I'm tweeting it right now!

Linda Osmundson said...

As a prior teacher, I know how important reading is for children. Therefore, I created a "Book a Month Club" for my grandchildren as a birthday gift. Each month for a year I sent a book, usually a Caldecott or Newbery winner, depending on their age. Or, something applicable. After that I gave a book for each celebration - Christmas, birthday, Easter, whatever. Most of my grandchildren have become avid readers. Hopefully, I helped interest them in books.

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