Probably not many of you remember that Public Service Ad Campaign the government launched (maybe in the 70’s?) to try to encourage all children to read — Reading is FUNdamental. I fell for it!
Now, I want to spread my love of reading to every child in the world. That is the main reason I started writing my children’s book series – I hope my books will help hook kids into a lifelong love of reading. And my ad campaign is: #readingisCORE.
Besides making Author appearances to sell my books, and visits to classrooms to talk to children about the writing process, I also like to volunteer at Public Libraries to help spread my passion for reading. This Tuesday, the very day that my co-blogger Joan Grey wrote about the importance of reading to your children, my daughter Abigail and I went to the Yonker’s Library to be part of their summer reading program.
Through United Way volunteers, we got to be Reading Buddies to children who come to library to explore books and practice their reading skills during the summer. Joan Grey is right – you don’t have to spend money to buy books, you just have to sign up for a library card.
Honestly, when my alarm went off on Tuesday I groaned and thought of a hundred things I really should be doing for work, rather then spending four hours of my time and energy trying to read with a bunch of antsy kids, who would probably rather be outside. But I was so glad I went. Not that every child I read with really loved the experience or thanked me or told me because of the 20 minutes I spent with them they now love to read. Hardly! One little girl got bored half way through the second book – which was chosen for her, not by her, and it was an exercise in patience trying to keep her attention. But I was glad because I saw so many people giving their time to an important cause. There were quite a few teenage boys there, sprawled on the floor of the children’s room, patiently listening as a youngster struggled through reading, or enthusiastically reading aloud to the younger kids who had no reading skills, getting the kids to interact with the words and the pictures. Wow!
What a worthy cause! But the piece d’resistance of the morning was meeting a young mother who hovered over her son, and drew her younger daughter into the circle too, as I read to and with her children. She helped select books, and took pictures of her kids and was enthusiastically committed to helping her son read in English. She handed me one book entitled “Ebula” and I said excitedly, “I just became a grandmother! Let’s read this book.” But it was in Spanish. “I am sorry,” I said, “I can’t read in Spanish.” “Oh, ok,” she said. “I can’t read in English so you read in English to my children.” “It’s a deal,” I said. “I will read in English, and you take this book out of the library and read to them in Spanish at home. We will be a team.” “Good,” she said. “When are you coming back?”
The young mother (whose name was America)’s enthusiasm really made me want to keep earning my wings – and volunteer more frequently. Oh did I forget to mention? I wear my wings to support my message — reading is a magical adventure that takes you to places beyond your imagination. Sure -sometimes the wings earn me a lot of funny looks – but most of the time they advertise the magic of reading. And at the Yonker’s Library, they earned me a place as a poster child for the United Way reading buddies program.
Help spread the magic! Read to your children. Or volunteer to read to a child. Or donate books to the children’s book give-away program Joan wrote about. I’ll lend you some wings. But I will be using my blue ones in two weeks when I go back to the Yonker’s program, to help support my new friends America.
© Jane F. Collen July 17, 2015