Kids Need To Read – Because They Do!

We don’t know how long modern humans have walked the earth. And we know almost nothing about the first ones to appear. But we know quite a lot about our history since around 4000 B.C. That’s when the first Mesopotamian writing appeared, and human knowledge and history began being recorded for future generations. What we call the dawn of civilization was really the dawn of writing. It’s writing that opens up the past, the present, and it’s our way to leave a mark on the future.

But without the ability to read it, there are people who won’t be able to share in the knowledge, history and culture that ties our world together in new and ever-increasing ways. Sure, there is recorded video and sound, and those can be wonderful, but to truly experience and interact with the world, to not only partake of culture but to participate in shaping it, one must be able to read and write.

Reading changes everything. It hones the mind, opens up new opportunities, and it makes it possible to imagine incredible new possibilities. Whether it’s a novel, an email, a blog, a subtitled film, a school textbook, a news article, a credit card statement or an end-user license agreement (just kidding, no one reads those), the ability to read is essential. And those who can’t are simply being left behind by modern society.

A child who learns to read will be far more likely to complete school and stay out of jail as an adult. But with funding tight at schools around the country, the school library is often one of the first things cut. Many schools, and particularly ones in struggling inner-city districts, haven’t had new books in years. Without good books, kids may decide that reading is boring, and never try to get good at it, and that can leave them unprepared for the world they grow up in. That’s why, for this week, I’m highlighting Kids Need to Read.

Kids Need to Read was co-founded in 2008 by author P.J. Haarsma and actor Nathan Fillion. It aims to foster literacy by sending schools exciting, well-written books that appeal to children at early reading levels. Their website claims that their carefully-selected reading list is what sets them apart from other literacy charities, and that the books they send are ones best suited to get kids eager to keep reading.

Now that I’ve discovered the charity, I’m going to let my own kids tear into that list and see what they think of it. You can learn more by visiting their website (which, not surprisingly, is very well-written), and maybe you’ll consider making a donation of your own while you’re there.

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4 Responses to Kids Need To Read – Because They Do!

  1. Emmanuelle Works says:

    As much as I love the charity, I do not like the idea of a set list. And I do not know how it was selected. I have loved reading independently with a passion since I was 6 years-old. I read a variety of books, including classics, comic books and books from other countries (I grew up in Europe). I think the emphasis on fantasy is wrong. What I liked most was stories where the characters had adventures in the real world, adventures I hoped to emulate, or characters who went through challenges I could identify with.

    • Emmanuelle Works says:

      Sorry for the bad punctuation. I’m very tired, headachy and English is not my native language.

    • admin says:

      I think what it comes down to is a recognition that when you have limited funds, you can only buy a limited number of books to donate, so instead of simply donating every book, try to focus on books most likely to appeal to young readers. It’s not a formula that will work for every child, but I think it’s worthwhile to do the best you can. And it’s not as though anyone is telling kids NOT to read other books, it’s just that, if you’re just looking for something to get a child excited, here’s a book that they recommend.

      On the other hand, I would be curious about their selection process, but if they really do focus primarily on books that are easy to get started on, exciting, and can connect particularly with children from challenging backgrounds, then it’s probably on the right track. Also, I don’t think you looked at the whole list. It’s not all fantasy. There’s separate sections for fiction, non-fiction, and graphic novels.

  2. Missy says:

    I volunteer for KNTR- the selection process is done through an advisory commitee. The people who recommend the books have backgrounds in literacy, education and book retail. The book list is undergoing some changes in order to better fit the wide variety of demographics we serve as well as to give schools more options to choose from. The board of directors are providing excellent book suggestions so as to make KNTR book packages much more substantial. I encourage everyone to keep an eye on the website for the coming changes. We do not just send out books on the list- through many generous donations from bookstores and people just wanting to help; the variety and quantities we have been able to send has been absolutely wonderful. Thank You for choosing KNTR as your charity this week!

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