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Reading – For kids, it is fundamental

November 1, 2007

For me, next week is all about the Scholastic book fair at IT Girl’s school.  I work with the Book Fair committee to plan Family Event Night. On the night the book fair is open, we put together a fun place for kids to play when they’re done browsing through the books.  We have face painting, games, raffles, snacks and more. We’ve really raised the bar from year to year, with the vision of turning it into a night for the whole community to be a part of and proud of.  We’re succeeding in that goal, and are so grateful for the support of the school and the village.

In a similar vein, when I was reading through Publishers Weekly, I saw a great article that made me smile.  Green Apple Books in San Francisco is honoring the store’s 40th anniversary by giving every one of the 3900 third graders in the city’s public school district $10 credit to buy books at their store. 

Ryan said Green Apple decided to extend a hand to third graders because he heard somewhere that that was a pivotal age for children and their relationship to reading.

I love this idea, and think stores big and small should look at doing something like this to help children experience the magic of books. I can imagine how those kids going into the store are going to feel because I was very like those kids when I was growing up. My elementary school served a neighborhood inhabited by people of very modest means. It would not have been able to support a book fair where people came to buy books, but in a way, we had something even better. RIF (Reading is Fundamental) came to our school every year, which allowed kids to pick out 2 FREE books. I remember the uncontainable excitement I felt as I spent the full hour browsing through all the books to make sure I picked the best 2 books I could possibly pick. Upon returning to my classroom, my “treasures” were put in my bookbag, to be unpacked right before bedtime when I could savor them to my heart’s content. That had to be one of my happiest days of the entire school year.

I wish that every kid could learn that books bring that much wonder and joy to your life. I see the same look in Little IT’s eyes when she goes to her school’s book fair. No, she isn’t walking out of there with 2 free books. Doing what I do for a living, it’s very hard to say no to a book, and last year she went to the fair three times (Donuts with Dad, Family night, and with her class) so she brought home quite a few new books. I do reserve the “No!” for things like the umpteenth High School Musical sticker book or a horrifically written book (Junie B, anyone?). I’m fine with adaptations of Disney TV shows like The Suite Life or, yes, even Hannah Montana – just as long as she keeps on reading.

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