Farewell to reading

Filed under: Development/Milestones: Babies, In The News, Day Care & Education, That's Entertainment

As a kid, I read voraciously. Rarely was I without a book in hand. I was, it seems, unusual in that respect, however. Not every family valued books as highly as mine did and many kids did not have easy access to lots of books early on. I do remember, however, a program that provided books to kids who otherwise wouldn't have them -- Reading is Fundamental.

It always made sense to me to encourage reading in kids -- if you want a literate populace, you need to get them reading early on, and if you want a successful, functional society, you need a literate populace. Otherwise, you have to get a lot more park benches and open a lot more McDonald's.

Well, it turns out that that program is still around, providing books and reading encouragement to 4.6 million children across the country. The program hands out 15 million (wow!) books to young and at-risk kids each year. RIF got started way back in 1966 and has been funded continuously by Congress and six Administrations since 1975.

All that may change, however. President Bush has eliminated funding for RIF in his proposed budget. Gone. Kaput. And how much did this program cost us each year? A mere $25.5 million dollars. I know that's a lot to you and me, but to keep things in perspective, the cost of the war in Iraq is estimated to be as much as $255 million dollars per day. That's ten times as much as the RIF program needs yearly, every single day.

I remember seeing Leslie Nielsen's public service announcement for RIF from the late 70's where he says "To a child who doesn't read, the world is a closed book." That really struck home for me -- I couldn't imagine not having lots of books, filled with adventures and excitement. So as you might guess, I am definitely in favor of funding the RIF program.

If you agree, now is the time to ring up your representatives in Congress and let them know that you think the Reading is Fundamental program is worth funding. Otherwise, we may end up with a lot of kids for whom the world is a closed book.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.