Encourage children to read

10 years ago

Encourage children to read

By U.S. Sen. Susan Collins
(R-Maine)

    “Oh! The places you’ll go! You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.”

    So wrote Theodor Geisel, better known by his pseudonym “Dr. Seuss,” in his last book published prior to his death in 1991. “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” describes life’s ups and downs and the adventures one will experience in the course of living. But it also provides a suitable analogy to the importance of books and the “heights” to which they can bring readers, through sparking imaginations and promoting success in life.
    Books offer a priceless form of entertainment, transporting readers to new worlds and introducing them to new ideas and possibilities. Children who learn to love reading at an early age are academically advantaged and more likely to experience future scholastic achievement.
    In recognition of the importance of reading and the enjoyment it brings, each year, I introduce a bipartisan resolution with my colleague, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, in honor of “Read Across America Day.” The resolution recognizes the numerous events celebrating reading that occur on that day; honors Dr. Seuss, who has inspired generations of young readers; and encourages parents to read to their children for at least 30 minutes every day. This year’s Read Across America Day took place on March 3rd, the weekday closest to Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and marks the 17th year of the program.
    Read Across America was an initiative begun by the National Education Association (NEA), which celebrates Read Across America Day by helping teachers, librarians, celebrities, parents, grandparents, and others to develop and participate in reading motivation and awareness activities in towns across the country. The goal of the national Read Across America program is to bring reading excitement to children of all ages.
    The program, by virtue of its emphasis on community involvement, has been a huge success. There are many available resources to help schools, teachers, and parents highlight this day through activities such as book parties, Dr. Seuss games, and read-a-thons. You may have even heard of principals who go to “extreme” measures, holding reading campaigns in which they spend hours sitting on the roof of a local store or spend time in a water-filled dunk tank based on how many books their students read.
    Read Across America Day is an opportunity for all Americans, young and old, to focus on the importance of literacy. It is my hope that Read Across America will continue to help families get into a daily practice of reading to their children and inspire our youth with an enduring love of reading. My own involvement with reading initiatives with Maine students has shown me the tremendous impact role models can have on creating lifelong reading habits. To date, I have visited nearly 190 schools in Maine and have had the wonderful opportunity to read some of my favorite books to thousands of children. These experiences rank among the most rewarding of my time in public service.
    I applaud schoolteachers, librarians, and most of all, parents, for their commitment to teaching America’s children the joys of reading. I encourage all Mainers who have or spend time with young children to observe and enjoy Read Across America every day. As the Cat in the Hat says to a young cat in Dr. Seuss’s 1978 book, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!, “The more that you read, the more things that you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”