Friday, May 05, 2006

For Some Kids, a Book To Call Their Own

For Some Kids, a Book To Call Their Own

No one would ever argue with the idea of giving poor children books to read. It is a great idea and we should do it. However, we should also know how meaningful it is, as a gesture, and as a factor in the performance of kids in school, and therefore later in life.

If we are saying that the main hurdle is the cost of books, and giving a free book to a kid is the best way to get their parent(s) to read to them every night, then by all means, give out books. All research shows that when reading is important to the parent, by demonstration, it becomes important to the child.

On the other hand, regardless of the availability cheap or free books – and this is indeed the case, if parents chooses to watch television or videos, over reading, the child’s development suffers tremendously.

Giving away books makes everyone feel like they are doing something, even if the real impact is minimal. This is the case with too much of our approach to solving education disparity, and the long-term economic impact this brings. Book give-away’s sound great, but the effort is often not one of really helping children, but rather PR events and moving over-run inventories from publishers, to schools, to homes, with little impact.

Make no mistake, we need to keep giving away books, but perhaps we also need to include persuasive parenting books, and videos as well, that tell the full story of the positive impact of reading to children. The real issue is not free books, but rather parenting with books, accepting that books take us places we value, starting with the 'storytime' seat on the couch next to mom or dad.

James C. Collier


Technorati Tags: , , , ,

No comments: