I read a story about a new way to introduce kids to books. Starting about three years ago in Seattle, librarians designed a program where they ride electric bikes with small specially designed trailers that hold a variety of books that are shared with kids at farmers markets, festivals and sporting events. The kids quickly gather around as soon as the bikes arrive, anxious to listen to this new type of book peddling librarian. What a great way to bring the love of books to kids by reading actual picture books, not E-books and other digital reading programs.
These “Books on Bikes” programs have expanded across the country in the last few years and now even San Francisco has a program called the “Spoke & Word” which they introduced during National Library Week. Don’t you love that name? It’s hard enough just to walk up the hills in San Francisco, so seeing one of these “Books on Bikes” go by would be pretty amazing. Some of these programs are in lower income areas of major cities that are considered “book deserts” because of the lack of libraries. With almost 40% of all libraries suffering from reduced staffing, hours or even complete closures throughout the country, librarians must use their limited resources to develop literacy programs for children, and this type of program is an example of their creativity and desire to share their love of books with kids in need.
My daughter-in-law is a children’s librarian and works tirelessly to find ways to introduce early literature to children in her town. Her programs include art projects along with her reading programs through the year, culminating in an Early Literacy Day that includes activities for all ages of young children including infants. This popular annual event continues to grow each year as the importance of early literature spreads throughout her community.
Many children have little exposure to reading if their parents don’t take the time to read to them at an early age and as a result more than 35% of 4th graders are not proficient in reading which sets them up for failure as they progress through the school system. Taking just 15 minutes a day to read to a child from infancy to first grade, gives that child 600 hours of reading, providing a strong foundation for learning in every subject.
Since the 1990’s, the percent of proficient readers in high school has steadily been on the decline and what is the primary cause? Lack of access to books and libraries. Even with the advance of E-books, those sales only account for about 25% of all book sales. Sales of “real books” or paper books have exploded in the past few years, so perhaps municipalities should reconsider closing libraries. Children and adults love going to the library and if cities continue down this path, then librarians will find other ways to bring books to their communities.
Our librarians need our thanks for keeping the love of paper books alive for all of us and for finding ways to introduce children of all ages to “real books.” I read many E-books during the past few years but recently found my way back to reading paper books. There is nothing better than holding a big, thick book, knowing exactly where you are in that book and even falling asleep with it in bed. What brought my love of paper books back? Buying children’s picture books for my grandkids with creative stories and illustrations that I love reading and sharing with them.
Here’s to the “Love of Books” as the Phoenix Publishing and Book Marketing / WordPress Blogging Challenge begins! We bloggers are challenged to write every day for 35 days and I hope my readers will send me some ideas about what to write about. I love to write and I hope you love to read so please share with me!