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All It Takes is a Kid – and a Book

March 2, 2009

Portland, OR – If you feel the need to put on a tall red-and-white hat and make silly rhymes today, don't worry – it's Dr. Seuss' birthday. That means it's also the start of "Read Across America" week, a national celebration of reading as fun, both for kids and parents. A new study by book publisher Scholastic finds that children who read for fun also perform better on all types of tests in school, and that two-thirds of kids say they prefer books to the Internet when they want to use their imagination.

Christy Levings, a member of the National Education Association executive committee, doesn't think parents must be "high-tech" in order to build their children's reading skills.

"We underestimate, in this big-media-blitz environment we live in, the value of just having conversations with your children. Conversations are a huge tool to help them read, because they create and expand kids' vocabulary."

"Read Across America" events are happening in schools around Oregon. Today, Gov. Kulongoski reads to students at Hayesville Elementary, Salem, at 10:30 a.m. On Wednesday, kids will don their "Cat in the Hat" hats and read at OMSI, Portland, at 9:45 a.m.

Levings is in Portland for this week's events. A teacher for 35 years, she says kids take most of their cues about reading from their parents.

"If your children have never seen you read anything, you ought to step back and say, 'I could be a different role model.' But don't make it too hard for yourself. Enjoy it. The more fun you're having, and the more you look forward to reading, that's a great thing to give to your kids."

The "Read Across America" kickoff date coincides every year with the birthday of the famous children's book author Theodore Geisel, better known as "Dr. Seuss." About 45 million students and parents take part in the festivities nationally.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR