Give a Book, Get a Reader, and Thank Your Lucky Stars

Can you remember the moment you realized that a book could take you to a whole other world?

Whether it was a made-up world or part of the real world from a different angle or different point of view, it was new for you. And the magic carpet, your time portal, your door to the secret garden was a book!

And the magic carpet, your time portal, your door to the secret garden was a book!

Those of us for whom reading was a treasured pastime will never really know how much of an impact it made on our lives, but today, there’s all sorts of research on the subject.

California’s “Talk, Read, Sing” campaign reminds us that you can’t start reading to kids too soon. The Annie J. Casey foundation issued a report in 2010 entitled “Early Warning: Why Reading by the End of the Third Grade Matters” that alerted educators and parents to the relationship between third grade reading proficiency and high school graduation levels.

In 2011, the American Educational Research Association followed up by publishing a study by sociologist Donald J. Hernandez that gave more specifics, saying that “a student who is not reading at grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by that time.”

It follows then, that pulling out all the stops to get children to think of themselves as readers by the time they finish the third grade is a worthy endeavor. Hopefully, the “Muffin Project” that A&M is doing with M.C. Tillson can help turn some more third graders into readers.

If you grew up in a household of readers, you should thank your lucky stars.


Just One More Book? Make Mine a Map

There are stacks and stacks of books at my house. You would think that I could stop buying (or otherwise acquiring) them, but no. Like the siren song that lured Ulysses, books call me, and I respond.

Like the siren song that lured Ulysses, books call me, and I respond.

I seem to go through stages in what I’m reading. Right now, I’m fascinated by anything with a map. It started with an atlas I saw in a book store. It was huge: a big, heavy, hard-cover book whose pages had gilt edges. It as printed on thick, white, smooth paper that made the bright colors even brighter, and it contained many, many, many maps.

I didn’t buy it (I would have needed to add a library to my home), but I did spend more than my allotted time pouring over the charts and graphs and infographics that help you explore and understand the maps.

Imagine my delight (and my very slight concern) when maps started appearing in everything I read. From children’s books to non-fiction and from self-help to romance, everything seemed to be sporting a map of some kind or another. (Even the computer book I was reading had a map of workflows!) Perhaps it was just that my map sensibilities were heightened because of a book I was editing and a recent trip to Italy where maps reigned supreme.

What do I like most about maps? The instant gratification: There it is! This is the best route. Here I am! As you read more and study the map’s terrain, you can’t help but be amazed by the many multi-tasking capabilities contained in this one piece of art.

I like maps because they answer my questions, give me a lot of information in a very user-friendly format, and orient me in a very disorienting world. However, I love maps because of the stories they introduce and inspire.

If I were queen, I would designate today as national Read-a-Map day. I’ll probably read several before I sleep. How about you?