Actually, it’s National Book WEEK…er MONTH…Wait,…What?
Well, actually, this week it’s both of those!
Today is the third week of National Book MONTH. That makes it National Book WEEK. We recognize Books like this because they add value to to lives of every child and adult. It’s as simple as that and well worth a celebration.
The benefits book reading provides to school-age children are well-documented in decades of research. Book reading enhances vocabulary in ways no other activity can. It gives children an understanding about places, people, topics and ideas that serves them well throughout their lives. Reading quality books enhances writing ability, too.
While educators, librarians, parents and others who care about the well-being of kids want them to read well, too often this inexhaustible resource for personal growth and skill building often fades into the undulating light of video games, TV and movies. Why might that be?
The problem here is that we all (virtually ALL) have been wholly focused on getting our kids to read well for school. We’re so narrowly focused on that achievement that we forget that after kids finish school, the time left to read for the sheer enjoyment is, on average, about 60 years. That’s 60 years of enjoyment, learning, reflection, growth, connection and fulfillment. Yes. THAT’s why we should want kids to learn to read books well! It’s to ensure that learning doesn’t end when youngsters are handed a diploma or certificate.
I haven’t heard many people talk about this, nor emphasize it. Perhaps this lack of dialogue and focus is why fewer and fewer kids engage with self-selected books once they are beyond formal schooling. Perhaps we neglected to tell them that reading isn’t just another school subject, but a valuable, ENJOYABLE skill… a gift for life.
Consider the damage that is being done TO reading achievement by us ONLY focusing ON reading achievement. No, really. Consider it.
Why do so many people HATE math? Math is a universal language that captures and embodies a way to think and communicate about numerical patterns of life and relationships that create clarity and order. Math provides an elegantly logical way of exploring life. Do you recall ever being involved in a lesson that focused upon that power and joy that mathematics offers us? I sure wasn’t.
I think we’re doing the same thing to reading and to the language we use to share our lives with each other by utterly ignoring the importance of ensuring that our culture is focused upon raising not just academic readers, but avid readers.
Children need to SEE everyone carrying books around and reading them. Kids need to interact with older readers about what they are reading and why they are reading it. Business people, professionals and public servants could get involved to help children come to know how adult readers select and reject books based upon their personal whims for extending their learning and their personal interests in exploring life.
If we actually did that, National Book Week would be called National Learning Week and everyone would take the day off and march down the streets holding their favorite books high in the air in joyful celebration of lifelong learning.
Lifelong learning. Now, that’s something worth celebrating!