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Developing a love of reading

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 10:09 a.m. CST

Did you know that 61 percent of families with young children and living in poverty have no books in the house?

Thursday is the Literacy Banquet of the DeKalb/Sycamore Bookcase Project. Full disclosure, I am on the steering committee for this local nonprofit. But that is because it is a cause I believe in – the importance of not only teaching children to read but teaching them to love to read.

Each year, the Bookcase Project builds 50 handcrafted, solid-oak two-shelf bookcases for children in the Two Rivers Head Start program. Each bookcase has a nameplate engraved with the child’s name and comes with a starter library of preschool-level books.

Our goal is to encourage these children to read and to encourage their families to read with them. The research is clear that the more literate people are, the better able they are, in general, to achieve financial stability and success.

But more than that; reading can be an adventure, an escape, a joy; a way to enrich your life.

Several years ago, when the acclaimed PBS series “Reading Rainbow” went off the air, I read a dispiriting comment from a PBS official: “The focus today is on teaching children how to read, not why they should read.”

I want children to want to read.

The details of the Literacy Banquet can be found in the Town Crier. The Bookcase Project is also collecting  new and very gently-used preschool-level books through the end of March for the starter libraries. Book donations can be dropped off at the DeKalb County Housing Authority, 310 N. Sixth St. in DeKalb. If you have a large donation, such as from a book drive, you can contact me to arrange for pickup.
• • • • •

Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season for Christians. Lent is a time of austerity and reflection in preparation for Easter, when Christians celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

A friend once told me Lent was her favorite holiday season because it’s hard to commercialize a season that’s all about sacrifice and penance.

“Sackcloth and ashes don’t make a very appealing window display at the Hallmark store,” she said. Here’s wishing my Christian readers blessings this Lent.

• • • • •

Fans of the Amusements pages in the back of the MidWeek will notice a change this week. The syndicate we subscribe to no longer carries Monte Dutton’s “NASCAR This Week” column. In its place, you will find two new puzzles, geared toward younger readers.

We welcome reader feedback. You can let me know what you think of the change – or of any part of the paper, for that matter – by dropping me a line at dherra@shawmedia.com or calling 815-756-4841.

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