Pages & Chapters mostly concerns itself with improving the technical reading skills of families in Title 1 families, and those reading skills are critical for success in the workplace and everything that means for ensuring a good quality of life. But a lot of us here at Pages & Chapters are also passionate about the interplay between those technical skills and a love of recreational reading. It is no big surprise that if someone has strong technical reading skills, he or she will enjoy reading more. As just one example, I have seen how it can be frustrating and embarrassing for a student who is reading below grade level to realize that he or she is only capable of reading books with content designed for a much younger audience. In other words, having the technical skills to comfortably read content designed for our own age group is something that it is easy to take for granted.
But it’s easy to forget that the converse is also true: if someone loves to read, it will be easier for their technical skills to improve. This can effect can be a direct one, such as families being more motivated to attend programs like Open Books so their students can improve reading levels and enjoy the same age-appropriate books being read by their friends. But it can happen in other ways as well. One of the five essential components of reading we focus on in Open Books is vocabulary, and for the improvement of one’s vocabulary, there is simply no substitute for frequent recreational reading.
Pages & Chapters currently works to foster a love for reading by letting each family choose a donated book to take home after each Open Books session. We are especially lucky to have site directors and volunteers who themselves love reading, and can make enthusiastic recommendations to families as they select their book. But we are always excited to hear about other organizations serving this role in our communities as well. Last week, I attended a luncheon featuring Diane Cleaver, the Executive Director of the Urban Neighborhood Initiative, and learned that UNI is using a Burns & McDonnell grant to fund a Dolly Parton Imagination Library. This program “provides children with carefully selected, age appropriate books every month from birth until their fifth birthday.” http://uni-kc.org/sites/default/files/2014-uni-community-report-final.pdf. Another organization I find inspiring, which was brought to my attention by Pages & Chapters KC Director Becca Maddox, is a Denver organization called Burning Through Pages, that works to provide individualized books for youth, and to facilitate book discussions to promote a love of recreational reading.
I would like to extend my thanks and encouragement to the parents, children, and organizations in our community that promote a love of reading. Here at Pages & Chapters, we will continue to look for ways to do the same, and we will continue to benefit from, and promote, the love of reading in our programming designed to develop technical reading skills.
Thanks for reading,
Jordan Bergsten, Board Member of Pages & Chapters