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.