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The Importance of Learning to Love Books

book pages in the shape of a heartLast night I fell asleep before my young son did because he was sneaking a book and he was up before I was this morning finishing it. I cannot quite convey how proud and thrilled that makes me, even if it means he’s going to be a basket case all day at school. The moment I have hoped for since he was first born has arrived – the magic of a captivating book has captured him and I know from my own experience that he’s begun a lifelong love-affair with reading thanks to that discovery.

How perfect then, to read this post from NCTE member Mark Condon on the importance of fostering this experience in our children. Here are a few excerpts:

“The benefits book reading provides to school-age children are well-documented in decades of research. . . . The problem here is that we all (virtually ALL) have been wholly focused on getting our kids to read well for school. . . . Consider the damage that is being done TO reading achievement by us ONLY focusing ON reading achievement.

. . . . Why do so many people HATE math? Math is a universal language that captures and embodies a way to think and communicate about numerical patterns of life and relationships that create clarity and order. Math provides an elegantly logical way of exploring life. Do you recall ever being involved in a lesson that focused upon that power and joy that mathematics offers us? I sure wasn’t.

I think we’re doing the same thing to reading and to the language we use to share our lives with each other by utterly ignoring the importance of ensuring that our culture is focused upon raising not just academic readers, but avid readers.

Children need to SEE everyone carrying books around and reading them. Kids need to interact with older readers about what they are reading and why they are reading it. Business people, professionals and public servants could get involved to help children come to know how adult readers select and reject books based upon their personal whims for extending their learning and their personal interests in exploring life.”

Today my kids will see me reading Andrea Davis Pinkney’s Bird in a Box, how about you?

Mark W. F. Condon is the Vice President at Unite for Literacy. He has focused at the college level on language arts teacher education preparation, global literacy development, and national and international partnerships promoting reading and learning.