I can't even begin to explain how grateful I am for parents who instilled in myself and my sisters an absolute, bona fide love affair with reading. My parents read to us daily until we were old enough to read to ourselves, and then made sure we ALWAYS had access to something new and exciting to read. Going to the library was as exciting to my sisters and I as going to an amusement park (and let's face it, I still get REALLY excited when I go to a library). We were active participants in the Pizza Hut Book-It program (a free personal pan pizza after every 4 books read)! And I LOVED reading to my sisters, Kieren and Courtney (or more accurately, making them listen to me read--I'm not sure they loved it as much as I did...)
I remember having a special reading nook in each house we lived in growing up. At my Grandma Sheridan's house, it was the back bedroom, where she (a retired teacher) kept her book collection. At the red house, it was in my bedroom closet with the door closed (seriously- in the middle of the day I'd sit in the dark reading with a flashlight). At the house on Wesleyan Ave, it was on a beanbag chair in the basement. At my dad's apartment, it was the bathroom (I'd sit in the tub and read... I was a wierd kid...). At our home in Fort Plain, it was my mom's room....
I'm fairly certain my reading obsession fueled my equally passionate writing fervor. I began writing mini-novels and poetry at approximately 8 years of age, and filled notebook after notebook with my sordid tales of soap-opera quality drama, adventure, heartache and the pains of human existence (** thank you to my parents for not freaking out when I wrote stories about random things that had somehow wandered into my consciousness; most of which some parents would find wholly inappropriate for an 8 year old to be writing about). I'm equally convinced that my love for stories is also what sparked my passion for acting, through which I've become a more empathetic and engaged person.
A recent article in the NY Times entitled The Medium IS the Medium discusses the continued importance of providing students the opportunity to read BOOKS (not online materials).
So I ask you this- Do the kids (or young adults, or even full-blown grownups) in your life read enough? If the answer is "no", or "maybe", or "I'm not sure", or anything but a resounding "ABSOLUTELY", then you're in luck, because NYC has one of the best library systems around... Check out the cool video below which explains how to navigate the New York, Brooklyn and Queens Public Libraries' Summer Reading Programs online! You can also get a slew of free reading material AND keep old books out of landfills by checking out a book swapping site such as Paperback Swap.