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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Reading is Fundamental

In 1966, former teacher Margaret McNamara brought a bag of used books to four boys in Washington, D.C., whom she tutored in reading. When she told the children they could each select a book to keep, their astonishment and delight led her to discover that these children, and many of their classmates, had never owned any books. By that summer, McNamara had gathered a group of school volunteers, and on November 3, 1966, they launched the book distribution and reading motivation program they called Reading is FUNdamental. From November 1966 through the early 1970s, RIF expanded from a pilot project at three elementary schools in Washington, D.C., to a program reaching children in 60 of the city's public schools. Its well-known slogan during those times was "Reading is FUNdamental". In 1975, the U.S. Congress created the Inexpensive Book Distribution Program (IBDP) which provides federal matching funds to sites that qualify for RIF's national book program. Today, through its contract with the United States Department of Education to operate the IBDP, now supplemented with private funds, RIF programs operate in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. RIF is also affiliated with programs in Argentina and the United Kingdom.

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is the largest children’s literacy nonprofit in the United States. They prepare and motivate children to read by delivering free books and literacy resources to those children and families who need them most. They inspire children to be lifelong readers through the power of choice. RIF provides new, free books for children to choose from and make their own. The seeds of inspiration in these books have motivated children to follow their dreams and achieve their potential. Yes, it seems incredible for a book to launch a life, but it happens every day as hungry, inquisitive young minds reach out and grab hold of the new people, places, and ideas that books bring them.

Nearly two-thirds of low income families in the United States own no books. I wanted to highlight reading today because so many children are labeled as lazy in school. But I honestly think with today's technology they are over stimulated and are just tuning out. I remember days as a child, spending hours in the library debating over which books to check out. My family was poor so it wasn't until I was a teenager that I owned a book, which is probably why I won't loan out a book today. But I will buy you one. :-) And I perhaps if more kids had access or were encouraged to read in order to decompress from the outside noise and technology, maybe their grades from school would improve and the effort demonstrated by these students would increase.

My nine year old niece often ask me for books. Last night, she asked me for a book and a new bible. When she asks me, I get excited. I told my brother-in-law, you know if she asks me for books, I'm compelled to get them. Plus, I get to let out my book buying demon. Joy, joy and win-win for me.

So if you're out one day buying yourself a book, buy an extra one for a school classroom, library or family member or donate to RIF. Give back some of what you love, and the world may just be a little more productive because of it.

(Sources: RIF, Wikipedia and Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund)

Do you donate books or buy books as gifts?
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I am a writer, filmmaker, wife and a mom of five beautiful, intelligent, quirky kids. This blog is for writers, aspiring writers, filmmakers and movie lovers. Bringing you my favorite books, films and photos, as well as giveaways and updates on my journey. I'm currently in the process of producing my first short film from my collection of short stories titled, If I Had My Way. The first story to be filmed will be Tandarin Drive. My award winning book, If I Had My Way, is available now. You can purchase a copy at Amazon.com and BN.com. You may contact me via email at: blog@lenasledge.com

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