"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Reading Is Not Optional

"Reading Is Not Optional"

Powerful words from Walter Dean Myers, our new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature at the Library of Congress.  This statement says it all.  It speaks to the power of literacy and the power of reading.

I recently had a conversation with a gentleman who works with at-risk boys.  Being the consummate book lover and proud Nerdy Book Club Member, I couldn't help but to begin suggesting books he might add to his repertoire and use with these young men.

One of the books I suggested was Walter Dean Myers memoir, Bad Boy; a book acknowledged and highly valued for its contribution to the body of young adult literature. 
Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers
Bad Boy: A Memoir is a poignant look into his childhood in Harlem.  Myers shares his journey, including experiences and decisions, both good and bad.  An avid reader, Myers often turned to books as his salve for societal pressures and issues of class and race.

I shared my excitement at  Walter Dean Myers being named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature at the Library of Congress(You can read about Walter Dean Myers in this New York Times Article or learn tips to get children reading from this Washington Post article.) 

I am also a consummate connector of dots, books, and all things reading related.  Not only does Walter Dean Myers write incredible books and promote literacy, he also appears in a book!  Walter Dean Myers connects with and inspires the budding young poet in Love that Dog by Sharon Creech (one of my all time favorite authors).  

Love that Dog by Sharon Creech
Love that Dog is another highly acclaimed book.  Written in free verse, it carries the reader along a journey of discovery and mutual understanding between a young boy and his teacher.  Love that Dog is an acknowledgment of the stories we carry inside and an incredible testament to the the power of language and how a few words, carefully placed, can make all the difference.  Empowering stuff.

As I rattled off books and authors (all be it, carefully rattling, so as to ensure he had the correct spelling), I apologized for talking so much and offered to get off my soap box.  This gentleman dismissed my apology and told me that I had passion for books and the power of reading and for that I should never apologize. 

I am passionate about books, about reading and about ensuring that all children have the support they need to learn how to read as well as access to good literature.  Books do more than just provide windows and mirrors; books heal, books inspire, books inform, and books provide endless amounts of pleasure

Where would we all be if everyone in the world could read? 

Let's make it happen.  One book at a time.  One reader at a time.

Join me in participating in World Read Aloud Day
this March 7, 2012.