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AM Inspiration: Add Your Bedtime Reading to the RIF Read for Change Challenge

The National Day of Service is coming up on September 11th. There's still enough time for you to log the hours you read to your child, bringing the Reading Is Fundamental Read for Change challenge to 3 million hours. The campaign is meant to raise awareness about the importance of early literacy on our country's long-term economic health. What exactly is this economic connection? From the National Children's Reading Foundation:

"Newspaper publishers lose an average of $38,000 in lifetime advertising revenue for each student in their community who enters the fourth grade reading at a first and second grade level. Law enforcement is beginning to realize that 78% of juvenile crime is committed by high school dropouts. But these dropouts can be predicted with 70% accuracy by third grade, based on reading ability, GPA, IQ, and prior retention. What determines GPA and retention at third grade? Reading ability. The majority of our social problems have a major link to low literacy levels."

More information on the economics of early childhood literacy can be found here.

That makes reading to your kids sound like serious business, which is only half right. As Poets.org from the Academy of American Poets explains it, reading to your kids is "serious play," or so says Robert Frost.

Aren't parents always searching for ways to connect to kids that don't involve consumption, video games, or other gadgets? I still remember stories from my childhood as lessons in magic and the power of imagination, long before the advent of Harry Potter and other magical fantasy stories. Reading with children operates on the same formative level as the gentle or harsh words that shape young personalities. As Poets.org has it:

"At that intersection of love and language is poetry. Naomi Shihab Nye urges us to 'remember the dignity of daily affirmation, whatever one does--the mother speaking to the child is also a poem.'"

Here's an excerpt from that environmentalist named the Lorax, one of Dr. Seuss's most beloved characters. I found a long selection on the Unahi Mindanao website belonging to a tribe in the Phillipines...they're trying to save the last virgin rainforest in their country. Dr. Seuss, that master of silliness, turns out to be useful for a serious conservation effort. Serious play, indeed. Enjoy.

Way back in the days when the grass was still green

and the pond was still wet

and the clouds were still clean

and the song of the Swomee-Swans rand out into space...

one morning, I came to this glorious place.

And I first saw the trees!

The Truffula Trees!

The bright-colored tufts of the Truffula trees!

Mile after mile in the fresh morning breeze.

And, under the trees, I saw Brown Bar-ba-loots

frisking about in their Bar-ba-loot suits

as they played in the shade and ate Truffula Fruits.

From the rippulous pond

came the comfortable sound

of the Humming-Fish humming

while splashing around.

But those TREES!

Those TREES!

THOSE TRUFFULA TREES!

All my life I've been searching

for trees such as these.

The touch of their tufts was much softer than silk

And they had the sweet smell Of fresh butterfly milk.

Tags: Children, Conservation, Dr seuss, Forest, Literacy, Phillipines

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