An infographic of “Surprising Book Facts” has popped up in my Facebook newsfeed a few times during this National Literacy Month. Included with statistics showing a decline in literacy among the impoverished, imprisoned, and those over 8 years old, is this gem: “Reading for one hour per day in your chosen field will make you an international expert in 7 years.” Of course, the other statistics are incredibly revealing and powerful, but this one really stuck out to me. Reading has so much potential to open doors and expand horizons.
I learned this early on while reading fiction and nonfiction books as a child. Opening a book allowed me to step into other worlds and see things from other perspectives, as well as learn new things about the world I lived within. I read everything I could get my hands on. From flyleaf to flyleaf, no page in a book was left unread. I still try to read as much as I can, but lately the books I read the most are ones with repetitive titles featuring colors and animals, such as “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” or “Llama Llama Red Pajama.”
|Yes, that is a copy of “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” Don’t worry, we have 2 more copies.|
My efforts to surround my son with as many books as possible, and to encourage a love of reading in him has created a bit of a surplus in his book collection. Now a surplus in books in itself is not a bad thing, but these were mostly duplicates. Earlier this month, I took him to a Little Free Library to donate them.
I got the idea after attending my first meeting of the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers last month. It just so happened that at this meeting the group launched #NWARKCares, an initiative to bring awareness to causes right where we live using our collective voices on our blogs and social media. For the first month, our mission was to shine a light on literacy. I was so excited that I got busy going through all of our books right away and brought them to the Little Free Library of a fellow Northwest Arkansas blogger I met at the meeting. I had learned from her that children’s books were what the libraries needed the most. Looking at the date that these particular photos were taken, I see that I did all of this before September 3, and yet I’m just now getting to this post. At least it’s still September!
|“The Legend of the Bluebonnet” and the only non-children’s book we brought, “Dreaming Cows”|
Helping to grow Young Master Gray’s book collection (and creating some of those duplicates), is our subscription to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. When someone posted about the Imagination Library in one of my online mom’s groups, I thought it was too good to be true. One free book a month from birth up until 5 years of age?! Sign me up! I have heard from several moms that the program is not available in their area, but if it is available in your part of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom or Australia, then I highly recommend signing up. Simply fill out a form on the website to start receiving books about 6-8 weeks later. We have received the books while living in both Benton and Washington counties. If you live in either of these counties or in McDonald or Madison counties, you can contact Karen Bryant with the United Way of Northwest Arkansas with any questions you have about the program. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are passionate about childhood literacy and would like to help, please consider donating to Imagination Library. A donation of just $25 is all it takes to sponsor a child, and they will receive a book every month.
|Some of the Imagination Library books we’ve collected so far.|
Other ways of getting involved and improving literacy in our community include:
- Volunteering with the Ozark Literacy Council. You can tutor, be an ESL conversation partner, stuff envelopes or help with event planning.
- Donate to a Little Free Library. Right now, if you buy the Little Free Library book for $25, you will get $150 worth of brand new books!
- Volunteer at your local library. For someone that loves reading, this won’t even feel like work!
- Read to a child. Yep, it’s really as simple as that.
Before you go implement these ideas in your community, tell me, what was your favorite childhood book?