Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reach Out and Read

August is a special month at Book Roast. We're teaming up with Reach Out and Read, a national non-profit organization that makes literacy promotion a standard part of pediatric care so that children grow up with books and a love of reading:

Reach Out and Read (ROR) trains doctors and nurses to advise parents about the importance of reading aloud and to give books to children at pediatric check-ups from six months to five years of age. A special focus is placed on children growing up in poverty. By building on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers, ROR helps families and communities cultivate early literacy skills so that children enter school prepared to succeed at reading.

To date, ROR doctors and nurses have distributed 5.4 million books to more than 3.3 million children and their families annually at more than 3,795 pediatric practices, hospitals, clinics and health centers throughout the country.

What will we see if programs like Reach Out and Read work? Not only will our children be curled up on the couch with a good book, they'll be writing books. We went out and posed the following question to kids of all ages: "If you could write a book, what would it be about?"

Here are the wonderful answers we received:

Tony, age 10: A book about sports. Two chapters on lacrosse, two chapters on soccer, and two chapters on football. It would be stories because you learn better by doing them, not by a book.

Sarah (age 14): A book about recovering from scoliosis.

Noreen (age 4): Barbie. A Barbie book with lots and lots of stickers.

Shamus (age 14): A soccer book.

Victor (age 9): I would write about skateboards. Skateboards are fun. You can go to the skatepark. They have ramps there. That's why it's fun to skateboard.

Virginia (age 7): I would write about my little puppy because she likes to play with me. She is a mutt. Mutts are one breed mixed with another breed or breeds.

Barbie (age 4): How to send her little sister back, cause she gets all the attention.

Dustin (age 8): How to play second base in baseball.

Kyle (age 3): The toy truck his dad got him.

Keri (age 14): How to put make-up on correctly.

Dani (age 3): She would write about herself.

Chris (age 12): A fantasy in which the main protagonist is a snake.

Steve (age 10): Probably about space.

Justin (age 8): I would call it "The Magic Pen" and it has two characters. They like to scare each other so so much and their favorite day is Halloween. They go to an old abandoned house and then meet an old ghost who gives them a treasure box this big. Inside there is a pen and when they write 'my dog can talk' their dog starts to talk. And that's when the adventure begins.

Jake (age 7): About Pokemon and Digimon and Yu Gi Oh, because kids like those.
Or about animals, so people know how to look after them and not hurt them.

Ashley (age 5): Me.

Madison (age 11): It would be a scary book about an evil dog who makes people believe that he's an innocent little dog, and the real pets try to tell the owners that he's evil, but they don't know until the end. At the end, they bring him to the vet and give him a pill that makes him go to sleep and then when he wakes up, he is a good puppy and they keep him.

Emily (age 9): It would be called Revenge. And it would be about these two twins Abbey and Allie who have the worst 4th grade teacher in the whole school. She gives really hard assignments, like a 24 page project due the next day. She sends people to the principal's office if their notes are sloppy. The twins notice that she's sending everyone down to the principal's office, so on the way to the principal's office they make a plan to seek revenge.

Eileen (age 6): I would write about my family cause why family is the most important thing in my world. (From the time she could talk, Eileen would always say "cause why" instead of because. She still does it.)

Brenda (age 8): Winter.

Tomas (age 12): Persons' view about their life and problems.

Syd (age 7): (Discussing the question with his parent) Syd: You just want one of my ideas so you can write it? Parent: No, my writing partner wants to know what kids would write about if they could. Syd: Oh. Okay then. Um. I would write about a girl named Lucy. No wait. Her name is Cindy. Not Sydney, but Cindy. Let me spell it for you. C - i - n - d - y. Get it Ciiiindy. Parent: Okay. What else? Syd: Yeah. Cindy. And she is very nice. And very smart. And very pretty. She's actually hot. Parent: That's great! What else? Syd: That's it.

I think my favorite answer is Ashley's!

Please consider making a donation to this worthy cause. It's easy. Stop over HERE to put your donation to work ensuring the vivid imagination of our new generation.

To learn more about Reach Out and Read, visit

Say, what was your favorite book as a child? Have you shared it yet with a child in your life? I and the other Roasters will reveal our all time favorites in comments.

(P.S. The next round of Book Roasts begins Monday morning at 6:00 a.m., U.S. eastern time. We've loaded up on those little paper umbrellas for the tropical drinks!)


ChrisEldin said...

Hi Jason!!

You're up way too early!!!

I liked Ashley's response too. Gotta love that kind of honesty and singular dedication. heheheh

I read a lot of science fiction as a child, and haven't read any since. Don't know why...

Charles Gramlich said...

It's wonderful to read all these ideas from kids. Shows a look into their mindsets, their inventiveness and creativity.

Anonymous said...

My favorite book growing up was Harold and the Purple Crayon, and I have to say, I'm still a big fan. We bought a new copy for our kids so my old one doesn't fall apart!

Something about the simplicity of it and the imagination-turned-real fascinated me. Also how his adventure scared him for a while too. It gave it an edge, a realism. My mother and I read it countless times.

laughingwolf said...

what better than any book about me? ;) lol

ChrisEldin said...

Would it be about what makes you laugh?

ashley's mom said...

I'm ashamed to say that Ashley's answer came out in a flash, with a look as if to say 'what else is worth writing about'. We have no need to worry about her confidence levels.

Ashley's universe is a wonderful place, with her right in the middle of it.

Shona Snowden said...

...creeps in in the middle of the night while everyone else is sleeping...

I read so much as a child my mother stopped buying books, because while she believed in reading, I was too expensive! I used the library and people knew that books were welcome gifts for Christmas, birthday and at any other time. I had many favourites - like all 21 of the Famous Five books - but the one that still stands out to me today is The Amazing Mr Blunden. I think it gave me a lifelong love of ghosts and twisting people from different time periods together. I've written one YA ghost story, and I'm in the bony throes of an adult one.

laughingwolf said...

but off course! none better! ;) lol

laughingwolf said...

of... dang it!

Sarah Hina said...

What a wonderful organization. We received books when our kids were born, and our pediatrician has given us several, too. I know that children growing up in poverty are much less likely to have books in the house, which places them at a disadvantage from the start. Minds should be nourished, too. This is a great start. Thanks for sharing!

My favorite books while growing up were Shel Silverstein's. I read Where the Sidewalk Ends countless times. The Giving Tree was another favorite, although it can still make me tear up. My daughter likes it, too. My son could care less. ;)

laughingwolf said...

sarah, shel drew/narrated an animated version of 'the giving tree'

you may both like it as much as i do

found it on youtube...

ChrisEldin said...

Thanks everyone, for stopping by!

It is a fantastic organization. I love how they focus on one thing and do it well.

ChrisEldin said...

Thank you for the donations! No amount is too small. It's very easy and quick. Even five or ten dollars will buy a handful of nice books for families who are in need.

Shona Snowden said...

While there's nothing like having your own books, I was wondering what the library situation was in the US nowadays? Do you still have plenty of them? Are they still free? Do you have mobile libraries for more remote areas? Or are they becoming dinosaurs in these electronic times?

mlh said...

To inspire kids to read, it is a wonderful thing you are doing. And I do remember being given a book by my older sister's friend back when I was a kid. "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh" by Robert O'Brien.

Phoenix said...

I wonder how much our early reading habits inform our later life. As a kid, I avidly consumed all things science fiction (only the "hard" kind -- and certainly none of that fantasy stuff for me!) and couldn't get enough of the Black Stallion.

Today I work in the Hi-Tech industry and live on a farm with horses. Coincidence? As for that bias against fantasy -- well, my avatar clearly shows I overcame that particular developmental hiccup...