Friday, March 9, 2012

The Importance of Books

Kyle Zimmer

“Access to books and educational material is the single biggest barrier to literacy development in the United States and beyond. If we can solve the problem of access, we will be well on the road to realizing educational parity – a goal which has eluded this country for generations.”

– Susan B. Neuman, Ph.D. University of Michigan, Ctr. for Improvement of Early Reading Achievement

Twenty years ago, I was volunteering every week at a soup kitchen in Washington, D.C. That is where I met the most amazing children and families. As I got to know them, I saw how much they had to struggle, but I also saw how bright they were and how motivated they were to succeed. I also learned that most of them didn’t have a single book to call their own, and that broke my heart.

In 1992, motivated by the above experience, I started  with two good friends First Book to make sure those kids, and all kids like them across the country, would have brand-new books of their own, and to make sure that the teachers and program leaders working with these children every day would have the books and resources they need to do their jobs.

Books are the key. Without books, a child won’t become a strong and capable reader, and without that, their chances of succeeding in school drop alarmingly. It’s something that parents understand and research confirms. The number of books in the home directly predicts reading achievement. Children who grow up with books in their homes reach a higher level of education than those who do not.

Since 1992, First Book has distributed over 90 million books to kids in need; we work with a national network of over 25,000 schools and programs; and we have local volunteers raising money in over 160 cities. 

But we’ve only just scratched the surface. There are 30 million children living in low-income households in the United States, and we’re only reaching a fraction of them. They’re waiting for us, and they can’t wait any longer.

Join us! You can help make a positive difference in the lives of children across the country.

Visit  First Book online to learn how you can volunteer or donate. Every $2.50 pays for a brand-new, high-quality book for a child in need.

Kyle Zimmer is the President and CEO of First Book.

A note from the editor-in-chief: Reading is an important aspect of parenting.  Reading time provides a wonderful opportunity for the parents to interact with their children.  In addition, studies show that children who are read to do better in school due to earlier language acquisition.  Moreover, a child who learns to speak earlier because he or she was read to from infancy, may have less temper tantrums at age 2-3 years.  That alone is a great reason to read daily to your child shortly after birth and throughout the rest of his/her childhood!

Dr. Monika Pis is the Editor-in-Chief for Plugged In Parents. She is a pediatric nurse practitioner with a doctoral degree earned at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  She has provided health care to infants, children, and adolescents for over a decade.

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