Over the years, along with going back to school, the month of September has become associated with a number of book- and reading-related events. Any day of the year is a great day to pick up a book or gift a child with one, but events dedicated to the importance of reading make extra great opportunities to spotlight literacy in your own home or someone else’s.
On the one hand, interest in traditional books is experiencing pockets of resurgence. In February of this year the New York Times reported that according to the American Booksellers Association, independent booksellers registered “a growth of over 30 percent since 2009 and sales that were up around 10 percent last year.”
Book lovers are also spearheading creative ways to keep reading and literature at front and center in our culture. For example, one resort town in northern Michigan, seeking to extend its tourism season with a distinctive touch, kicks off its inaugural Festival of the Book this year. Spanning the end of September and first part of October, during the festival the tiny town of Harbor Springs will welcome nationally and internationally-known authors, illustrators, and other presenters.
On the other hand, despite these promising signs, a few years ago, the Literacy Project Foundation posted some fairly alarming statistics, including that in a study of “high-income countries,” the U.S. ranked 12th in literacy rates, that 44% of American adults do not read a book in a year, and that 6 out of 10 households do not buy a single book in a year.
Of course, books do not require purchase. September is Library Card Sign-Up Month, “a time when the American Library Association and libraries across the country remind parents that the most important school supply of all is @ your library® - it's your library card.” Libraries today offer not just traditional books but e-books and audio books. Survey results from the Pew Research Center - Internet, Science, and Tech, released earlier this month show that “Half (49%) of those who have visited a public library website in the past year used handheld mobile devices (such as smartphones or tablets).” Still, the survey also showed that “When asked why they visit public libraries in person, large numbers of library users cite fairly traditional reasons” and that “Two-thirds of library visitors borrow print books; around half go to read, study or engage with media.”
Reading does and will affect our future. Study after study has shown that kids who read for pleasure tend to academically outperform peers who don’t—across multiple subjects—and these benefits carry over into adulthood.
You and your family can make a difference! One random act of kindness, a book given to a child, supports literacy, and School Zone has made it easy. During the month of September, for just 50¢ a book from the Start to Read!® series will be added to your order. Teach the value of giving—pay it forward to a child in need.
What difference can a book make? Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and 2006 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, once said, “I read a book one day and my whole life was changed.”