The role of reading

I may not be in the majority, but I know I am not alone.  I love to read, and I grew up in a home where we had books and we were read to and I read once I was able to all by myself.  I particularly remember staying up way past my bedtime to finish a Judy Blume novel.  I’m guessing my mother had fallen asleep much earlier with her latest New York Times Bestseller in her hands.

I know that not every household was like mine.  It’s very likely yours was, if you’re reading my blog, but that’s not a given.  I have taught many students who resist reading, but they don’t even know why they do it.  It’s very possible they’ve never been drawn in to the world of books no one ever bought them a brand new book with crisp pages and a shiny cover; no one ever lay down next to them and read, letting them turn the pages to find out how it ends.  All they know are video games, text messaging and websites reading for purposes such as directions to play, what’s for lunch today, and what the latest music or sports events are.  There is little notion of reading for pleasure in the minds of these children.  But we can change that.

I have joined Scholastic, Inc., the longtime publisher of children’s and young adult literature, in their Global Literacy Campaign.  I have created my own Bookprint, which is a list of books that have influenced my life.  At http://youarewhatyouread.scholastic.com/ you can read the books that celebrities and readers of all types have selected as the books that have shaped our lives.  Add your Bookprint and look for readers similar to you.  I hope I’m one of them.

Another piece to Scholastic’s campaign is Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life.  This initiative circles me back to the children I described above.  As a community of readers, those of us who read as children, read to our children, and read ourselves, should recognize that the world we live in will be a more intellectual community if we encourage reading.  The Reading Bill of Rights is a succinct, scholarly list of profound beliefs that support the idea of how the act of reading leads to success.  My favorite principle is the last one:  WE BELIEVE that in the 21st century, the ability to read is necessary not only to succeed but to survive for the ability to understand information and the power of stories is the key to a life of purpose and meaning (http://www.scholastic.com/readeveryday/read.htm).   Wow, I believe this deep down, as a teacher, as a writer, as a mother.  Today, I’ve read to my children and my students.  I feel good about that.