Creating a Reading Culture from a Distance

March 5, 2012

Today on Share a Story — Shape a Future, Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer) has started the week off with an excellent round-up of ideas on how to encourage one’s children to read. Other bloggers have posted from a teacher’s perspective, from the perspective of encouraging older children, etc.

What about people like me, who have no children of our own, are not librarians or teachers — can we play a role in creating a reading culture? The answer is a resounding YES!

I am a writer, so one might say I have a vested interest in making sure kids keep reading, but truthfully that’s not my primary motivation. I was a bookworm long before I became a writer, I know the value of books in one’s life, and I care deeply about ensuring that children continue to be raised as bookworms, for their benefit and for the benefit of all.

What can people like me do, to help get kids reading?

~~ give books as gifts. I particularly like to give books to grandparents, to help them build up a collection of good books to share when the grandkids come to visit.

~~ if you blog, read and review picture books and other kids books. I participate in Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Fridays, which offers links to other bloggers’ reviews of a plethora of different books, and suggested learning activities, every Friday. I promote PPBF to librarians, parents, anyone I think might be interested in learning about good new (or old) picture books. There’s a listing of all the Perfect Picture Books which is a wonderful ongoing resource, as well.

~~ get to know your local children’s library and the staff, as well as the staff in the children’s section of the local bookstore. Let them know why you’re there — I spend a lot of time in both those places, looking for books both to share for PPBF, and keeping up to date on what else is out there as I write. When one doesn’t have a child or two in tow, it’s good to explain one’s presence. It’s a great way to recommend books, and to get the word out about programs like Share a Story — Shape a Future, as well.

~~ donate books to children’s hospitals. Our local rehab hospital has been the recipient of many picture books from me. The staff has told me that kids particularly appreciate books with CDs, so that they can listen to the story while they’re receiving treatments.

(With that in mind, contact publishers of your favorite books and suggest CDs/audiobooks be included with more titles. It’s the publisher’s decision, not the author’s, to make an audiobook, and the question of “will it sell” is uppermost in the decision making process. If publishers know there’s a demand, hopefully they’ll be more inclined to meet that demand.)

~~ read and share with others Emma Walton Hamilton’s book Raising Bookworms, which gives strategies for getting kids reading, no matter what age or reading level they are. This book is an invaluable resource that I recommend and share at every opportunity. (You can read more about it in my blogpost at this link, although the giveaway the post mentions is over.)

 

Creating a reading culture is worth the effort — get in the game!

 

Share a Story — Shape a Future artwork by Elizabeth O. Dulemba.

17 People reacted on this

  1. Nice post on Share a Story – Shape a Future. Like you, I don’t have young children around me. So it is hard to read and interact like I used to when my kids were young. I liked your suggestions, many of which I do. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Pat. It does create unique challenges for us, doesn’t it? It’s good to find ways to address those challenges, though.

  2. Beth, Wow. Just Wow! This is such a wonderful complement to the day’s theme about creating a reading culture. I had not thought of audio books, so thank you for increasing my awareness – and broadening my options! ~ Terry

    1. Thanks so much, Terry! The first time I took books with CDs included to the rehab hospital, I was surprised at the enthusiasm with which the director greeted them. She told me of the sometimes painful treatments (such as Botox) the children have to undergo, and how something like an audiobook can be so helpful in distracting the child from the discomfort. It certainly opened my eyes.

  3. Beth, I love your suggestions. Giving books as gifts and donations are such great ideas.
    I love children’s librarians. They have so much to offer, but many people don’t know they can ask them for help.

    Very good post!

    1. Thanks, Eric. I had a wonderful conversation with the young woman at the circulation desk in the children’s library the other day. I told her about Perfect Picture Book Fridays, and she was very excited about the whole concept.

  4. What a great post, Beth! Full of good ideas! I have also always been a bookworm and hope kids will continue to get the joy out of reading that I always have. Thanks for the mention of PPBF too!

  5. I wonder if there is a way to take Perfect Picture Book Fridays to another level involving children’s librarians all around, say, for instance, set up a way for the librarians across the nation, the globe even, to have access to the books being suggested and encourage the children’s librarians to choose three of their faves that day and highlight those three on that Friday for the children’s section. Maybe once a month, have and promote a PPBF read of some of the books. Just tossing some randomness from my head, I guess. 🙂

    1. I’m working on promotional materials even as we speak, Angela. That might be the first step.

      Thanks for your suggestion.

    1. They’ve been so grateful when I’ve done this. I buy so many picture books for research and review, (although I’m trying to get more from the library) and I can’t possibly keep them all. When I saw that they had picture books for the kids at the rehab hospital, the proverbial lightbulb went off in my mind.

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