Last week, I took my three-year-old son to get his first library card. (Full disclosure: A friend told me that the library doesn’t charge late fees to children, while the fines on my card for the books he kept hiding around our house were breaking the bank.) He had a choice of five different card designs, and he picked the one that said, “READ.” It was a proud moment.
The library was packed on this Friday afternoon. Parents were sitting on the floor reading to preschoolers, toddlers were wandering around pulling board books out of colorful plastic bins, and older kids crowded around little wooden tables, engrossed in their books. Two middle schoolers chatted with the reference librarian like she was an old friend. My son was busy collecting a towering stack of picture books he’d never be able to carry to the door, and it all reminded me of how much I loved library visits as a child.
As Chronicle Kids celebrates 25 years of publishing, I’ve been thinking a lot about children’s books, the value of literacy programs, and why kids love being read to so much. We know that surrounding kids with books will make them smarter, but what are the intrinsic qualities of books that make them so important, so magical, so lasting? Why is reading a book to a child such a rewarding experience, and what can we do to keep our kids reading into adulthood?
I put out a query to my colleagues and friends online: Why do you read? More than 50 people responded, some with just a word or two, some with impassioned replies and a long list of reasons. One in three people said they read to escape, which struck me as an alarming commentary on the current state of our society. I compiled all the responses, then edited them down a shorter list:
25 Reasons to Read
1. To escape
2. To time travel
3. To exercise my imagination
4. To walk in someone else’s shoes
5. To learn something new
6. To get out of my head and into someone else’s
7. To learn a new word or remember an old one
8. To laugh
9. To quiet the mind
10. To dream awake
11. To find just the right words to say how you feel
12. To discover the world without leaving home
13. To not stare at a screen for 30 freaking minutes
14. To bring back memories and remind me of parts of myself I’d forgotten
15. To meet new people without having to actually get dressed
16. To get inspired and motivated
17. For the wonder and delight it brings to children
18. Because no one understands me quite like Jane Austen
19. So I can point out all the things they got wrong in the movie
20. To hear my own story in someone else’s words
21. To broaden my horizons and get a new perspective
22. To introduce my children to magic
23. “To find life, in all its possibilities.” —Claire Messud
24. To feel less alone
25. Because you never meet men like Mr. Darcy at the bar
There were many more, a lot of shared sentiments, and a few that were as funny as that last one but not entirely appropriate for a blog post related to children’s books. But this exercise made me curious to cast a wider net and ask many more people, Why do YOU read?
In honor of the Chronicle Kids 25th Anniversary, we’re launching a #25ReasonstoRead Twitter campaign. Share your reason to read on Twitter, and for every tweet with the #25ReasonstoRead hashtag, we will donate a children’s book to a young reader in need (up to 250 books). If you don’t have a Twitter account, you may also share your Reason to Read in the comments below.
Visit the 25th Anniversary website for author interviews, online excerpts, giveaways, and more. New surprises added each week!
Guinevere de la Mare
Senior Community Manager