Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Second Annual National Give a Kid a Book Day

Today, July 6, 2016, is the Second Annual National Give a Kid a Book Day. Regular readers of this blog will remember that I declared this day one year ago as a way to encourage children to read over the summer. The idea generated enough social media buzz that National Give a Kid a Book Day has actually become a thing. I have applied for the day to be placed on the calendar of national days.

Research indicates that many children lose reading gains they made in school during the summer because they do not continue reading (summer loss syndrome). Research also shows that when children have reading material available to them they are more likely to read.

So today, find a child in your life (son, daughter, grandchild, neighbor's kid) and give the child a book. While your at it, include a lollipop with your book gift to send the message that reading is sweet.

What is Give a Kid a Book Day? It is a day when every adult takes time out of a busy day to let a child know how important reading is by giving that child the gift of a book.

Why Give a Kid a Book Day? We have days for everything. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Grandparent’s Day. Administrative Assistant’s Day. Boss’s Day. National Tapioca Pudding Day (That’s on July 15 for those who wish to celebrate). Giving kids books seems at least as important as these.

Why July 6? It seems as good a day as any. July is a month when most children are off from school. Giving a child a book now will give them something productive, entertaining and even edifying to do. It may also help to combat summer loss syndrome, that pernicious affliction that causes students to lose their learning gains by not sufficiently exercising their reading muscles over the summer. It is also my son’s birthday and I have given him books on every one of his 39 birthdays and I am pleased to say he is a reader.

National Give a Kid a Book Day is dedicated to the many hard working people who have gone to extraordinary efforts to make sure that all children have access to books. Toward that end each year on this day we will recognize these folks by placing them on the NGKBD Honor Roll. Last year's inductees were Luis Soriano, Lisa Willever and Philadelphia's Words on Wheels. You can read about their contributions here.

This year’s Honor Roll inductees are as follows:

Dolly Parton - Dolly was nominated for the Honor Roll by blogger, Peter Greene. You can read his piece about Dolly's good works here. Dolly's Imagination Library seeks to place books in the hands of children who may not have access to them. Her program sends books to children once a month from birth through kindergarten. All you need to do to register a child and the books are sent to them for free. Dolly was inspired to start the program by her own impoverished background. She realizes books may be the possessions that spark children's dreams. Her program began in 1995 and has continued to grow across the country and around the world. You can read more about Imagination Library at her website here. 

Leland B. Jacobs - Leland B. Jacobs was a teacher, college professor and writer of children's poetry. Jacobs felt that the best way to help children become readers was to give them good books to read. Dr. Jacobs began his career as a teacher in a one room schoolhouse in rural Michigan and finished as a professor at Teachers College, Columbia.  He championed reading aloud to children to help them "lose themselves in literature." His poetry for children was published in books and anthologies. For Jacobs, exposure to great books was the key to making children into great readers. For his efforts to get teachers to "give children literature", Leland B. Jacobs earns his place on the NGKBD Honor Roll.

Margaret Craig McNamara - Margaret was the founder of the non-profit organization Reading is Fundamental (RIF). She came to Washington, D.C. with her husband, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in the 1960s and immediately began work as a volunteer tutor in the D.C. schools. There she observed that many children did not have access to books. Using her political contacts and working with school district officials, she secured a grant from the Ford Foundation to get Reading is Fundamental started. Today, RIF programs operate in all 50 states and provide more than 16 million books a year to children.

Tomorrow my wife, Cindy Mershon, and I leave for Bloomington, Indiana to visit my son Bruce, his wife Jennie, and our brand new grandson, Henry William Walsh. We are taking lots of books as gifts. Need to get the newest Walsh off to a good literacy start. Why not do the same for a kid in your life today?

If you know people who deserve to be in the National Give a Kid a Book Day Honor Roll, please nominate them in the comments section and I will include them next year.