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The Luxury of Reading: Appreciate and Donate

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Did you know only one in 300 kids in low income areas have an age appropriate book at home? Books are an important part of childhood and a necessary educational tool. Many children don’t have the opportunity to enjoy this pleasure. If you are fortunate enough to have books in your home, take advantage of them and the things they can teach you and your children.

Children on a bench reading

At a recent Mom It Forward Twitter #gno party, sponsored by PBS Kids, Tweeters shared the importance of reading and how we can not only appreciate it more ourselves, but share it with those that aren’t able to take advantage of books.

How can you get your kids to appreciate reading?

Help your kids understand the importance of reading and how grateful they should be that they have the opportunity to learn how to read.

  • Make reading a common habit. “Incorporate reading into daily life. Not just as a ‘sit and read for 20 minutes’ activity, but as part of normal routines,” said @NoVaLibraryMom. @akonthego suggested keeping books in the car, by the sofa, beds, and elsewhere. “We read a story together every single night, no matter where in the world we are.” @jylmomIF suggested reading alongside them and modeling reading to encourage good reading habits.
  • Make reading fun and something the kids want to do. Reading can be an activity they choose if it is something they enjoy doing. @liveBarefoot suggested encouraging your children to do crafts and activities related to their favorite books. @pbskids gave many other ideas for fun reading activities as well.
  • Incorporate reading into other activities. Let children read everywhere they go and they will learn to appreciate being able to read. @mellanhead takes her kids shopping and has them help read the grocery list. @mamaknowsitall said, “When we go somewhere special (the zoo, the park), I read stories in those settings to help make a deeper connection.” @brendakae42 said she incorporates reading by just reading "everyday things, like the cereal box…” @akonthego reminded us of map reading as well. “We’ve started having our son be the ‘navigator’ on trips,” she said. “He is learning to read maps and guidebooks.”
  • Use educational websites and apps to encourage reading. Many moms suggested pbskids.org, which also has lots of great apps to help build literacy skills. @akonthego also suggested Magic Treehouse sites.
  • Feature reading as a family. “Talk about books around the dinner table. What are the kids reading? What do they think about it?” suggested @tips4familytrip. @jylmomIF recommended a family book club. “Try picking a topic your children are unfamiliar with and learn about it together,” said @liveBarefoot. “Keep the conversation going after the book ends.”

Where can you find new books?

Find new books your kids will enjoy. Start by finding books with their favorite interests or styles. “If your children read what they are interested in, they will be more apt to read,” said @jillgreenlaw.

  • Library: Many Tweeters, including @brendakae42, suggested the library as a great place to find new books. Just remember to return the books! “Honestly? We love to go to book stores. I'm banned from libraries. Never return books,” said @jylmomIF.
  • Internet: The great web! “Let your children follow their interests: sports, biographies, animals, magic … Do a quick search online and find related titles,” said @liveBarefoot. @jylmomIF suggested @noflashcards's site as a way to discover new books. Here’s a list of favorite children’s books from the Soar with Reading program.
  • School: “We always go to the book fair at school and ask others what they are reading,” said @jillgreenlaw. @GeekDad248 finds new books through scholastic book sheets that the school “sends home for kids to pick out and parents to buy.”
  • Trades and Exchanges: @mom4everandever has book exchanges at the local school. You can bring in books and get credit for the same to exchange out. “We like to find places we can trade books, that way we not only share our favorites, but find new treasures!” said @JetBlue.

Why is it important to donate?

  • “In my city, some kids have .5 books in their home. Yup, less than one! Donating books ensures that all kids learn to love to read,” said @mamaknowsitall.
  • “Literacy is huge problem in rural Alaska. Such a need for more books to the villages!” said @akonthego.
  • “Not everyone has access to free books. It can foster creativity and imagination!” said @Lizinka2001.
  • “All families should have access to literature. Find a local organization, school, or center and just donate,” said @GloriaMalone. “That book might be the only one that a child owns. For low-income families, books may be a luxury they can’t afford,” said @LatinMami.

Twitter screenshot from @momforeverandever saying "There is something about owning a book, even if used, that kids love-every kid deserves that feeling

Donate your used books and help those in need.

  • Donate to the library! This is an easy place to deliver books and guarantee they will be read. “We had a book club where everyone brought a gently used book to donate to the library,” said @jillgreenlaw. @GeekDad248 said, “Our library resells donated books.” This gives books a new home and raises money for various new items the library needs or wants.
  • Raise giving kids. Use your donations as a teaching opportunity. Your kids will learn the value of giving and caring for others’ wants and needs by donating their own once loved possessions. “I bring my kids to drop their old books off at a few centers,” said @AngelasClues. “So proud they are, especially when they share one with a younger child!” Don’t forget hand-me-downs! “My kids love giving their books to their younger cousins,” said @CherylBudge.
  • Find other locations in need of books. @GeekDad248 suggested the homeless shelter or women’s domestic abuse shelter. Also consider local schools, a suggestion from @jylmomIF, or thrift shops, recommended @cafeyak.
  • What books should you donate? “We try to clear out books that are no longer age-appropriate and donate those,” said @MelissaNorthway. Give gently used books, suggested @jylmomIF. “Donating books is passing on the joy of reading,” said @cafeyak.
  • Participate in the Soar with Reading program from PBS Kids and Jet Blue. Simply share the name of your favorite children’s book and @jetblue will donate a book to a kid in need.

Picking a book from the shelf for a bed time story may not appear to be that big of a deal, but many children go to sleep each night without a picture book to enhance the imagination of their dreams. Benefit from what you read and look for new books to broaden your range, but always remember to share with others when you’re done!

Do you donate your books once your children outgrow them? What are some other ways to share your books with others?

Feature image courtesy of Flickr.

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Cambria VandeMerwe

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