Reading was such an important part of my life growing up. My parents weren’t big book readers but they read the newspaper everyday to stay informed and in touch with the world. Some of my fondest memories are walking to the bookmobile and choosing new books. And even as a child, I loved owning books. There was a program, and probably still is, in which once or twice a year a flyer with recommended books would come out and children could buy them and have them delivered to them through the school. Being very lucky to have the parents I do, my parents indulged me and often would buy several books through this program.
I remember some of the titles of books from my elementary years. Trouble River is the book that started my love of reading. Stormy, Misty’s Foal, was one I owned and after a few years the book cover was taped on; I’d read it so often. My first series of books was The Borrowers. Oh how I loved the adventures of the little family. Thinking that at least the first two were long out of print, I was amazed to find all of them still available. Afterall, I read these a little over 40 years ago.
I look back and am so grateful for my access to books both through the library and through the ability of my parents to pay for them. I’ve tried to pass my love of reading on to my nephew and nieces. They got a book for every holiday including Easter. When I go to a book store with a Christmas wish list, I always try to buy one or two books for children who wouldn’t own one otherwise.
I started doing some research when I began thinking about this post. Author Neil Gaiman gave a wonderful lecture on the importance of reading for pleasure and the need for libraries. In his talk he shared,
“I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons – a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth – how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldn’t read. And certainly couldn’t read for pleasure.”
That is a pretty striking fact. It’s not hard to find out research that supports the importance of reading. On the website Begin to Read they gathered some pretty startling statistics. Two-thirds of students who can not read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare. The Southern Education Foundation reports that low-income children are a majority of students in the public schools of 17 states across the nation.
Worldwide, UNICEF is stating that, “Nearly a billion people will enter the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names and two-thirds of them are women.”
There are a number of groups that are working towards increased literacy in the United States and globally. Reading is Fundamental is the one organization with which I’m most familiar. They have a new campaign. Book People Unite. It seems that would be us – the book bloggers and their constituents.
I’m a newbie in the blogging field and so I’m reaching out to my fellow book bloggers and readers of book blogs. What kind of campaigns or fundraising is being done in the book blogosphere to raise money so more children can read?