If you were in the Columbia Heights Target two weekends ago you would have inevitably noticed the proliferation of white and red striped “Cat in the Hat” hats. The Cat himself was there as part of NEA’s “Read Across America” program. Target employees took turns putting on the hat and reading Dr. Seuss stories throughout the afternoon. During the time I was shopping, there was a rather large group of children listening intently and following along in the books distributed throughout the audience. Additionally, there were handouts for the parents (in English and Spanish) about the importance of encouraging reading in early childhood, local libraries, etc.
I don’t have to tell you, lovely members of the blogosphere, how fundamental reading is. It’s the foundation of, well, pretty much everything. Reading makes you a better writer and a better communicator. It’s a looking-glass into worlds of people, places, and things you’ll never see. It gives you lenses through which to see the world as it is and the imagery to envision what it could be. It gives you a sense of perspective and helps you understand yourself and your environment.
I was lucky in having a parent who realized all this and read to me almost every night before I was old enough to read by myself and took me to the library regularly once I was, instilling in me a love of the written word that persists to this day. One of the most fulfilling experience I have had was volunteering as a literacy tutor a couple years ago. Being able to help someone (in this case, an adult) not only have a better life in the sense of developing their skill set for the workplace but a richer life for unlocking the mystery of all the stories in all the books one can lay one’s hands on was pretty rewarding.
Thinking about checking out volunteer opportunities here as it’s just a few blocks from my apartment.