Every March we commemorate Read Across America Day. It’s a day to celebrate the power of reading and foster a love of learning in children everywhere. If you’re not an educator, you may not be familiar with this observance, but if you have a young child, niece, nephew or grandchild, you still have a great opportunity to join in the fun.
Read Across America was created by the National Education Association in 1998 to encourage literacy and the idea that reading can be fun. We celebrate it every year on Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Dr. Seuss’s humor, wordplay, and visual flair has shown countless children that books can inspire learning and creativity.
Reading is a crucial part of education, but it’s a learning process that parents and children should share. Encourage reading at home as well as in the classroom: establish a set time each day to read to your child and help them find books that relate to their lives and interests. A great place to start is the local library, where your child can choose from a wide variety of books at no cost. For older children who can read independently, make some time to read a book or the news at home, and ask your child to sit with you and read a book of their choice. Instead of relying on electronic devices for entertainment, encourage school age-children to bring a book with them during long car or plane rides. Many thoughtful books aimed at teenagers are also popular with adults, such as the works of John Green. Consider reading one of these with your child and discussing the book together.
I always look forward to participating in this program and reading to the students. Seeing their enthusiasm and hearing the questions or ideas they have about the story is inspiring. I know their intellectual curiosity will help them continue to learn and grow.
To sum up Read Across America, I leave you with the words of Anita Merina of the National Education Association. She created a Dr. Seuss-inspired poem in 1997 to promote Read Across America, and I believe it sums up the message of the day, and the enduring legacy of his work: “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”
Ronald G. Rios is the director of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. He writes an occasional column for Newspaper Media Group.