Getting your kids ready for school goes beyond outfitting them with pencils, pens and new clothes," says author and publisher David Bruce Smith. "The most important 'gift' you can give your child is a love for reading."
He says that reading is elemental to the education process but, he adds, there is much more than literacy at stake for young learners. "To paraphrase a character in a movie I once saw, the key to all knowledge comes in words."
Smith, who co-founded the Grateful American Book Prize for authors who write and publish historically accurate works of fiction/nonfiction-- especially for kids-- points out that a well-read child becomes a productive citizen. Reading also promotes curiosity, which is a cornerstone of success in later life.
He has suggestions for parents who want to motivate their children as they prepare for this coming semester:
- Don't censor them. Let them read what they want. Parental rebellion causes young adult defiance. Even internationally acclaimed author Neil Gaiman writes: "You don't discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is the gateway drug to other books you may prefer them to read. And not everyone has the same taste as you.
- Stoke an interest in reading. For example, if a child favors science fiction, introduce him/her to the great Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clark.
- For kids who hate the conventional ways of reading, there are now electronic alternatives such as audio books and Whispersync, a technology which enable users to switch back and forth between a Kindle book and an audio narration.
- Finally, take your children to the local library, and, literally, show them the world in which they live. "Libraries are about Freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information," says Gaiman.
One last thing, says Smith. There's proof now that reading is good for the mind-and the body. A new study in the journal of Social Science & Medicine, reveals that people who read live longer than those who never engaged.
As for the 2016 Grateful American Book Prize, the judges are poring through more than 100 books that were submitted for consideration and will be ready to announce a winner on October 6 at a ceremony to be held at the Library of Congress.