"The more you
read, the more things you will know.
The more that you know, the more places you will go."
-- Dr. Seuss
My favorite readers are kids. It always makes me happy to see a child engrossed in a book. Not one of my books, necessarily--I tend to write for an older audience. But having been a book-loving child myself, I know well how the habit of reading can enrich a child's life.
Books can introduce you to new friends, transport you to fascinating places, take you on marvelous adventures. And once you've discovered the magic to be found in books, chances are you'll keep coming back for more. The habit of reading can be hard to break; it tends to last a lifetime. And thank goodness for that. Kids who find pleasure in reading tend to become adults who read for pleasure. Which is a good thing because books can be such a great source of enjoyment. And, let's admit it, we writers enjoy having readers.
So I'm delighted when I go into my local library at the Peek-a-Books Storytime and find a full house of eager preschoolers. Or when the mom of the three-year-old charmer in my extended family sends her to her room to pick out a bedtime story, and the little one comes back with so many books that they're spilling out of her tiny arms. Or when I'm strolling through the park at the foot of my hill on a warm spring afternoon and see a boy sitting on bench, so absorbed in his book that he's not noticing any of the activity going on around him.
Kids today have lots of entertainment options, with electronic devices that put movies, music and games at their fingerprints. I'm a fan of such things myself, but if you ask me, none of those alternatives stimulate the imagination or challenge the intellect the way a book can. None provides quite the same kind of magic.
Studies have shown that children who read have many advantages. Compared to nonreaders, they do well in school and are more likely to go to college. They have better communication skills and greater self-discipline. They have a superior understanding of the world around them. They are more apt to avoid negative behaviors like drug and alcohol use. They're better equipped to succeed as adults in an economy where literacy skills are increasingly important.
So I believe in encouraging young readers. Read to the kids you know. Give them books as holiday gifts and birthdays.
Who knows, one of them may choose to read one of my books someday.