Reading builds family memories together

As we excitedly sat in the movie theater, waiting for “The Hunger Games” to begin, I paused to reflect on how important it was to my daughter that the film version of a favorite book be true to the story. We had been eagerly waiting for this moment for a whole year. 

Starting with Pat the Bunny in her infancy and Mike Mulligan's Steam Shovel in her toddler years, we have read at bedtime most every night. She progressed to reading step one chapter books on her own and then moved on to Nancy Drew, Harry Potter,The Lightening Thief,The Hobbit, Little Women and many more. She read The Hunger Games out loud to me while on a road trip last year. Now she is taking on more challenging works, Jane Eyre, The Once and Future King and War of the Worlds. She asks to go to the public library often and walks out holding her newest book selection like it is a coveted prize.

Since 2006, The Skillman Foundation has invested more than $5.8 million in programs to increase literacy in children and families and to provide them with access to high-quality early-education opportunities. In 2011, the Foundation made a $20,000 grant to First Book to support a neighborhood-based literacy campaign and give approximately 4,000 youth, ages 4-14, the opportunity to establish home libraries and tools needed to develop critical early literacy skills.

According to First Book, national evaluations of reading proficiency scores show that 80% of 4th graders from low-income families scored at “Below Proficient" levels. The organization believes that it can improve those statistics by introducing just 12 books into homes that may not have them. Studies have found that regardless of nationality, level of education, or their parents’ economic status, children who grew up with books in their homes reached a higher level of education than those who did not have books in the home. It is well known that reading in early childhood provides a child with the skills to achieve success in school and later in life.

Books don’t have to be expensive. They can be found at yard sales and thrift stores for as low as 25 cents. They are free at the public library! When your kids are tired of the books that they have, you can trade the books with other parents.

Having the energy to read every night after all of the responsibilities of the day isn’t always easy, but it is worth it. Take the time to read with your kids and you will find that it not only helps them to achieve success at school and in life, but it will build a lifetime of family memories together.

-- Suzanne Moran is the Grants Manager at The Skillman Foundation.