December 09, 2011

A Book on Every Bed

     Lucky me: I grew up with a father who read to me, living in a home where the books always threatened to crowd out the people (pound-for-pound, we were always outnumbered).  This situation, of course, predisposed me toward having a houseful of books as an adult, and toward reading to my child regularly (as well as accompanying him to library & bookstore storytime events whenever possible).

  Lucky me.

   Other children are not so lucky: at least half of this country's children don't get read to regularly, and many don't even have books of their own at home.  This was pointed out by nationally-syndicated advice columnist Amy Dickinson in her December 8, 2011 column.  The facts she was highlighting are bleak, but her point was to offer a solution: A Book on Every Bed.  Here's Dickinson:

Introducing books and reading very early in life will write indelibly on a child's future. Here's how it works:

Take a book.

Wrap it.

Place it on a child's bed so it's the first thing the child sees on Christmas morning (or whatever holiday you celebrate).

That's it.

Well, I think it's brilliant, don't you?  It starts at home, and it starts with one book at a time--brilliant and simple!  "A Book on Every Bed" is an initiative of the New York-based Family Reading Partnership, a community nonprofit promoting early literacy.  Although the organization does accept donations to provide books, Dickinson makes it clear that is not the point of her column:

This is not a fundraising appeal. This is not about selling or buying books (the book you give can be passed down). "A Book on Every Bed" is an appeal to spread the love of reading from parents to children. We also want to encourage families to share books by reading aloud.

    Whether that gift of a book is going on a bed or under a tree, on December 25 or (insert random date here), it is a very powerful, important gift. The book may have been free to you, but that additional gift of reading it aloud with a child is absolutely priceless.

     I think this can be a very fun new tradition.  And I think it can be even more fun: let's put the every in "every bed!"  Sure, every child should get a new book--but so should every adult!  Whether the books are coming from a local bookseller, your favorite online new or used bookstore, or the local Friends of the Library Sale, keep the adults in mind as well as the kids--and don't forget yourself!  Even if it means wrapping a book for yourself and "sneaking" it onto your bed before you turn in for the night, do it!

     Check out the video of Amy Dickinson celebrating "A Book on Every Bed" with her granddaughter, and please let me know: do you have any traditions (holiday or otherwise) surrounding books?

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