Thursday, January 24, 2013

One More For Our Side!

As you probably already know, I work for Scholastic Book Fairs, and every season we have a Season Kick Off meeting at which we discuss the previous season, customer surveys, new books, etc.  Today was the Spring SKO, and as usual, we ended up discussing, what else, but our own individual reading. :-) A coworker, one who admittedly never liked reading  before, talked about picking up one of the Bluford High series (No Way Out, I think) to read for our Stop, Drop, and Read program.  In it, he found for the first time a story to which he could connect.  The characters and situations reflected his community and life, and as a result, he came to love the book.  It seems to have sparked a genuine interest in reading, and I'm pretty sure he'll be reading the rest of the series.  Hopefully, this will lead to even more reading of lots of different titles and kinds of books.

What's your point, Dawn?  This is cool, but really, what are you trying to say?  This coworker is in his early 20's, 23 I think.  He is just now, as a result of a random book picked up because he "had" to read for 15 minutes every workday, finding a love of reading.  What could it have done for him to have found this love 10 years ago? 15 years ago?  What if some librarian or teacher had put a book in his hands then that reflected him, and as a result, he started reading more and more at age 8 or 13 as opposed to 23?  Now, don't get me wrong here...starting to read every day at ANY age is awesome, and I love that he did.  I just wonder about the kids who grow up to be the 23 and 30 year olds who never find that book.  Once a child is out of school, there is no guarantee that he or she will visit the library or read at all.  Once he or she is out of that age range where school is mandatory and the library is visited at least some for schoolwork, we've lost our golden chance.  Luckily, this coworker came to work for a company that values literacy and created an opportunity for him to find this new interest, but there are a lot of people who don't like to read or never read out there and only a few jobs open at Scholastic.  So what to do?

Every time you have the opportunity to put a book in a child's hands, DO IT.  Take your kids to the library.  Buy books for nieces and nephews and cousins and friends.  Read in front of kids.  Get excited about whatever you're reading, and when you read something amazing, talk it up like you've got the cure for cancer. While reading may not actually cure cancer or AIDS or anything else in and of itself, if you get a child to read a lot now, who's to say that he or she won't find a love of science in that reading and grow up to cure these things.  There's no way to gauge just how much impact the simple act of handing a book to a kid can have, but I promise you, it is huge.

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