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Literacy: Reading is Fundamental to Everything This Summer

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Reading, as many of us know, is fundamental to our existence in so many ways. Reading is the basis of a good education, facilitating the acquisition of a world full of skills and knowledge. Reading is the basis of a good life, enabling the acquisition of better-paying jobs. Reading is the reason why so many reading centers, libraries, and literacy nonprofits exist. Reading is why Reading is Fundamental exists.

Reading is Fundamental is America's largest children's literacy nonprofit. RIF's highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. They work to prepare and motivate children to read by delivering free books and literacy resources to those children and families who need them most. In 2009, they served over 4 million children with over 15 million books at more than 17,000 sites nationwide.

Macy's Be Book Smart campaign website screenshot To keep up their prolific outreach, they are launching two significant campaigns this month to raise money and awareness. The first, called Be Book Smart, begins today (June 24th, 2011) at Macy’s stores nationwide, and will help replace recently lost federal funding. Macy’s customers can give $3 to help provide a book for a child and get $10 off a purchase of $50. Macy’s will donate 100 percent of every $3 to RIF, until July 31. That's an easy way to support children's literacy.



Buddig Be a Reader campaign website screenshot The second national campaign is called Be A Reader and is supported by a partnership with Buddig, the lunchmeat manufacturer. The goal of this campaign is to promote family reading time, as well as raise funds. To encourage families to read together this summer, the Be A Reader campaign is featuring a contest for children between the ages of 6-13 for a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship and free books from Scholastic. To participate in this contest, parents and their children read an e-book together at, then provide a brief description about their experience with the book. They then get friends and family to vote for their essay, and from that, winners are chosen. One winner per age group will receive a $1,000 scholarship. Two hundred winners per week will receive a free Scholastic book. The contest ends July 25. The funds will be raised through an on-pack promotion featured on specially marked packages of Buddig lunchmeat products.

For a little background, RIF was founded in 1966 and has given away 380 million free books to date. They encourage parents to keep reading to their children during the summer with these tips in mind:

  • Make reading an adventure by connecting read-aloud choices to summer activities. Choose books that allow children to explore new places, meet new people and discover new things.
  • Plan an outing to your favorite nature center, theme park or zoo. Review the destination brochure or website to plan your activities and what you hope to discover once you get there. Read the maps and field guides as you explore.
  • Take books along on summer outings. Pack books in the family beach bag, picnic basket or backpack.
  • Swap books with a friend. Keep sharing books throughout the summer.
  • Document summer activities and travels in your personal journal. This will improve writing skills and keep treasured memories fresh.

To those tips, I add these. You can support either of these efforts by shopping for clothes or food; how awesome is that! Whether you are reading with your own children or helping other kids to read by helping to provide them with books,  it's a wonderful, fundamental thing.

How do you encourage your kids to read? How do you support the literacy of children in your local community?

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