Reading is Important…Even in the Summer
Tomie De Paola, noted children’s book author/illustrator, is quoted as saying:
“Reading is important, because when you can read, you can find out anything about everything and everything about anything.”
Wise words from a picture book author who, in addition to accolades as long as your arm, in 2011, Tomie won the prestigious Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. Given initially by the American Library Association’s Association of Library Service to Children, to, and named for Laura Ingalls Wilder, herself, in 1954, for her contributions to children’s literature ( “Little House on the Prairie” series ), and thereafter, to designated honorees, its list of children’s book author is impressive.
At the bottom, I’ve provided a listing of winners from 1954 – to the present. And here is the criteria for the award, given by the Association of Library Service to Children:
“Its purpose is to recognize an author
or illustrator whose books, published in
the United States have, over a period
time, made a substantial and lasting
contribution to literature for children.”
Tomie, as one of the honorees, has spent his artistic professional life bringing meaning to those quoted words in a variety of pictures books settings, stretching back over a career with books that touched on topics as diverse as saints and Bible stories, a series about a famous magic pasta pot brewing witch named Strega Nona, a memoir-based series on his own family, compilations of folk tales and legends, and board books for the very youngest of readers, to name but a few of his contributions to sewing the seeds for wonderful and diverse content for young readers to sample, savor, and find their favorites.
With the passing of Memorial Day, the run up to summer commences, with a glorious two-and-a-half month hiatus for young readers to have more free time with family, and a less structured scheduled day, perhaps.
It’s the perfect time to initiate and carve out a space between trips to relatives, vacations to the mountains or beach, and maybe those enrichment classes kids are free to take during the summer…and just maybe, leave an important place for reading. There is no app that can replace a lap…and a read.
This is the time when kids can read widely for interest and enjoyment, keyed to their own tastes, and not solely curriculum based; although, may I just interject, that I am a fan of both suggested summer reading lists by grade level, distributed by schools, and also library-based reading summer programs.
Both of them, in addition to books provided by parents, piled high on a child’s night table, make it harder to ignore the tradition of reading for pleasure which, though we may not realize it, is a habit, both initiated, and encouraged, like any other.
And, for those young readers who have still to be introduced to their local book store, and the acquisition of a library card, this is the time to pop into both places for a poke around to see both classics reads for kids from your own childhood that you may want to introduce to them, as well as what is new and exciting in children’s picture book literature, waiting to be discovered by both the young, and, shall we say, the more mature reader….called parents!
Picture books are the portal to the chapter book and everything beyond. And, as there is so much competing today for children’s time and attention, I’m afraid it’s up to parents and caregivers to reset the priority button, as far as reading is concerned.
As an added bonus, continuing reading in June, July and August also helps eliminate what educators call, the “summer slide,” which encompasses a loss of grade level attained reading comprehension and facility over the summer months.
Which brings us back to the quote by Tomie de Paola that initiated this post, and its message has never been more needed or necessary, than for the children of today:
“Reading is important, because when you can read, you can learn anything about everything, and everything about anything.”
Accessibility to information, via books, as well as reading for pleasure and relaxation, has never been more obtainable for our children from a widening variety of sources.
Reading can enlighten, engage, console and comfort in a world that is increasingly stress filled; both for adults…and children.
Please allow your young reader the opportunity for this “journey of the mind” to continue this summer.
It’s a journey, once begun, that will continue through all the summers of their lives, and maybe, even through to some wintry days, when they are sorely needed.
Happy Summer! Happy Reading!
Here is the link to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award winners from 1954 forward. It’s a good spot to start the search for great authors’ books this summer for your young readers.
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