Books Make It Better

Books Make it Better is a mom-driven movement powered by delegates of Parenting Magazine Mom Congress: Jen Barth, Renee Berry, and Meghan Lynch. They share my interest in helping to empower kids and to support early literacy efforts for kids in need in communities across the U.S.

This is the bookshelf in my daughter's room. As you can see, books are not lacking in our home. However, 2/3 of families living in poverty in the U.S. (61%) have no children's books in their homes. It's possible that many of my daughter's classmates rooms don't look like this at all. In fact, every night Finn goes to her bookshelf and pulls three books out for me to read. Sometimes they are the same three I read the night before. Sometimes they are a new three. Sometimes they are books that have to do with cats, another night fairies, or maybe it is Dr. Seuss or Richard Scarry. But for fewer than half (48%) of young children in the U.S. are read to daily. This means that more than 13 million of children under the age of 5 go to bed every night without a bedtime story. This may mean that in Finn's kindergarten class, 34% of her friends have entered school without the basic language skills they need to learn to read.

I know that Llama Llama Red Pajama (which we all just read for the Read for the Record campaign) isn't everyone's favorite grab and go bedtime book, but when I read for Finn's class and watched all her classmates enchanted by just a moment of storytime, I knew that Llama Llama would always be one of my favorites. Because a book made it better that day.

For those of us who are too busy to organize a real book drive (like me!) Books Make it Better has partnered with Reach Out and Read on a virtual book drive. You can donate books directly to ROaR by choosing from one of eleven different titles, or by sponsoring a child for the full five-year ROaR Program.

Just think, your donation might just be helping one of Finn's classmates get their hands on a great book! Who doesn't love Goodnight Moon? Or The Tale of Peter Rabbit? And for $50 you can sponsor a child for an entire year. Wow! I'm willing to give up 10 chai tea latte's for that-and you all know how much I love a good chai tea latte this time of year!

I know that this isn't everyone's house:
We have a bookshelf in every room, three in the master bedroom, two in the office, two in the living room. There are stacks of books and magazines on tables, on the floor, you can find a random book in a tote bag, a backpack, a few books in the foot well of the backseat of the car. We walk to the library once a week to pick out "new" books to read. The point is that in our home we love books. Not surprising since both parents were English Literature majors, eh? And named a daughter after a key character in American Literature. Reading in our house is like breathing, you don't think about it you just do it.

But what if you don't have a book? What if the only time you can get to hear a book read aloud to you is at school during storytime? So, help make a difference today. $5. That's the cost of one book in the virtual book drive. Children from low-income families hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers before the age of 4. $5 can help change that. For the price of a chai tea latte you can put a copy of Curious George into a child's hands. For $5 you can help a child hear words that they are unlikely to encounter in regular spoken language or in primetime television. You can make it better, because Books Make it Better.

Follow the Books Make It Better campaign on facebook or twitter @booksbetter. Book drive starts today and runs through December 2011 so books can be collected and distributed prior to the holiday season.

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