By Janet Level
“Ride the reading rocket.” “Reading is fundamental.” “Fly over the reading rainbow.” Decades ago, each of these slogans turned up almost everywhere. They were heard and seen on TV and in magazines, and they were plastered on billboards. The idea that reading was important and necessary was overwhelmingly accepted by the general American public. Reading was considered to be one of the most important skills any person could possess.
Even with all of the emphasis on the importance of reading during the 70s and 80s, statistics from those decades and today indicate that nearly one-third to half of adults read at the eighth grade level or below.
Fast forward to 2014, and literacy and reading rates are considered educational benchmarks for the United States. Today, children in fourth, eighth and 12th grades are tested annually to determine any loss or gain in the nation’s literacy rates. Entire educational standards and programs are developed, scrapped and redesigned based on those scores.
Classroom curriculum and lesson plans look almost nothing like they did 40 years ago. The nation is involved in yet another complete overhaul of the U.S. educational system, and the debate centers on whether or not a Common Core curriculum is necessary.
Regardless of which technique wins classroom superiority, readers should be progressing outside the classroom and it should be fun.
Reading and learning in general, works better when there is encouragement at home. Spouses, parents, siblings and extended family can help create a reader-friendly environment. It doesn’t matter if the reader is four or 40, reading is necessary to succeed in life and reading at home is a big part of the learning curve.
The first step to creating a reader-friendly environment at home is to establish reading as a priority. Someone has to take the lead and declare that reading is important.
Have books at home either hardbound or e-books. There are several genres to choose from, including instructional, inspirational, fictional, biographies, short stories, classic literature and more. No type of book is better than another.
The major difference between a book that gathers dust on a shelf and a book that is worn from use is whether or not someone finds the book interesting. Look for books at the public library, book stores and online. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a great resource for families seeking books for their children.
According to www.imaginationlibrary.com, the program has mailed more than 40 million books to children nationwide.
Local families can register their preschool age children by visiting the Hopkinsville-Christian County Public Library or www.hccpl.org. The local library also offers a variety of enrichment programs for all ages year-round. For updates on activities, like “Hopkinsville-Christian County Public Library” on Facebook.
Teens and adults can join the Big Read, which is new program sponsored by the Pennyroyal Arts Council and several local organizations.
The Big Read will be “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett. A kick-off event will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Alhambra Theatre.
“We’ll be giving away free books to the public and Campanile will be involved doing a skit and there will be a 1920s photo booth,” said Arts Council Director Margaret Prim.
“It’s a community-wide event and there will be lots of ways to check-out the book at the library and the Depot,” she continued.
There will be arts events scheduled and a film festival at the theatre on the final day Nov. 15.
Look out for more information at hoptownbigread.com, pennyroyalartscouncil.com or neabigread.org.
By Janet Level