Yesterday marked twenty years of Read Across America. It’s an annual awareness program created by the National Education Association (NEA) to encourage and celebrate reading in children and teens. March 2nd, the birthday of the creative and beloved children’s story writer, Dr. Seuss, is the day designated to celebrate this reading program. What better way to celebrate reading among youths than on the birthday of one of today’s most celebrated author of several popular children’s books, including The Cat in the Hat.
I grew up always hearing that reading is fundamental and remember seeing the “Reading is Fundamental” posters that were ubiquitous in school settings andpublic libraries. Yet, I didn’t always bury my head in books. I eventually came to appreciate reading and did more of it by the time I was in high school. Today, I’m encouraging my own children to read and am delighted to know that the NEA have a designated day that brings awareness to the importance of reading. I am equally delighted with NEA’s goal to encourage the practice of reading in children and teenagers throughout the year. But the organization’s advocacy does not stop at simply announcing that every youth should read on a regular basis. To ensure that youths in all segments of society embrace this practice, NEA continually advocates on behalf of educators and families to legislators for the creation of reading programs in schools and communities. It also provides resources and activities to its members, parents, caretakers, and educators.
Reading is Health-promoting
“Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers.
~ National Education Association
It should come as no surprise that reading is considered not only fundamental, but health promoting for all youths. In fact, other major organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Paediatric Society, have published literature on the benefits of encouraging reading in youths. The benefits of reading are indeed many. Increased knowledge of the surrounding world, an active engagement of the brain (compared to passive engagement when watching TV), improved concentration, improved language skills, development of critical thinking, increased socialization (by discussing a read topic with others), and simply learning to embrace reading as a fun activity are just a few examples.
Jump on the Read Across America Bandwagon
To honor the twentieth anniversary of Read Across America and Dr. Seuss’s birthday, the Health-promoting Bandwagon ask that readers of this post contribute in some manner to the promotion of reading in youths. Perhaps you could volunteer at your local library’s reading program and read to youths after school or on Saturday mornings. Perhaps you can sign up to be the mystery reader at your child’s school and read a story to a class. If you are with youths who enjoy reading and usually read alone, then simply asking them about the book they read, such as what they found most fascinating about the topic, is another way to encouraged their continued engagement in this health-promoting activity.
To learn about other ways to get involved in Read Across America, contact your state NEA affiliate office for information on events occurring in your community. (Click here to find your state NEA affiliate office: http://www.nea.org/home/49809.htm.) Another useful resource is Reading is Fundamental or RIF, the largest literacy organization in the United States (https://www.rif.org).
So go grab a book, perhaps one by Dr. Seuss, and, above all else, start reading. Also, please feel free to share a favorite book you remember from your youth. Perhaps others would consider reading your favorite to a group of youths at a school or public library or to their own children at home.
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