Thursday, October 02, 2008

Michigan Reads! One State, One Children's Book Program

Its Aim: The Michigan Reads! program seeks to highlight the importance of reading and sharing books with children, especially toddlers through early elementary, and to recognize the vital role of libraries which provide access to quality books, programs and services to children and families that lay the foundation for reading and school success.

With the help of sole sponsor, Target, the Library of Michigan has distributed to public libraries, elementary schools, Head Start and Michigan School Readiness programs a kit that includes a copy of this year's selection--"Raccoon Tune"--along with a programming guide full of ideas and sample programs, information on early childhood literacy, a poster and more.

Its History: The "one book" concept — community-wide reading programs where all participants read the same book during the same time frame — originated from the Washington Center for the Book in 1998 with "If All of Seattle Read the Same Book." The project was a tremendous success, and since then, similar "one book" programs have popped up in cities, communities and states throughout the country, including several here in Michigan.

These programs have many purposes, including celebrating books and reading, fostering an appreciation of literature, promoting lifelong learning and the joy of reading, and encouraging people to talk about books and make connections through literature and reading. Whatever the program aim, people who take part in the collective reading experience are sure to gain a great deal!

For the most part, the "one book" projects have concentrated on books for adults. While some have included components for children, Michigan Reads! is unique in that it highlights the importance of family literacy by focusing on a picture book for children ages 0 to 5.

Our experience: Very cool. Gaylord was among author Nancy Shaw's scheduled promotion sites in September. When I told G that I planned to take him and J (who was already scheduled for an after-school playdate at our house) to meet the author of Racoon Tune, he freaked out (his words). Eyes popping out of his head, he went on and on about how his kindergarten class went to their media center to hear someone (from the library) read them that book. "I get to meet the author?! I know that book!" Reader extraordinaire that I am, I was pleased with his response, LOL.

We added one more friend to the mix and arranged for me to pick them all up from school. They were all equally excited. Our library did a wonderful job of setting up the presentation room and Nancy Shaw was engaging and informative. The kids loved her. Like I said, very cool.

Only complaint: The price of the book. $16.95 I have to believe if children's books like these were more affordable...that would help in the literacy cause as well. And yes, I recognize that by putting a copy in every library, you make it available to every child. Try selling that to a 5 year-old at the author signing.

Last comment. Our library gave away tickets in advance. They had a limit of 50 spots. They did not run out of tickets. Not even close--more than half left. The event was publicly communicated (very well)--local newspaper, library marquee, teacher newsletters home with each child, posters in each school, posters and promotion by our local independent bookseller, and so on. So WTF? The kids had such a good time. Makes me want to bitch slap a couple of SAHMs I know personally for not getting off their ass and bringing their kids to a free (minus the book buying pressure), educational and fun! event. And start a 'get off your ass' campaign to reach all the ones I do not know personally.

Not to end on a negative, particularly personal pet peeve, I encourage you to find whether a similar program exists in your state and whether you or family and friends can benefit. Not all are geared toward children and I imagine some may be a hidden source of reader groups we're overlooking.

3 People Gabbed:

Stacy~ said...

Hey it's great you're highlighting reading, especially for kids. I don't think enough effort is put into encouraging children to read. Thanx for posting this. I'll be checking out my own state :)

Terry said...

I don't know whether to be shocked or angry that the library couldn't give away fifty tickets.

Glad to meet a mom as passionate about books, reading, and kids as we are.

Terry Doherty
The Reading Tub(r)
Bringing reading home to families.

Jennifer B. said...

Thanks Ladies. I'm definitely miffed, at least at the stay at home Moms I know personally. Long standing issue for me, and one that is not easy to bring up for fear of sounding self-righteous. I just don't see why folks don't get out and do stuff with their kids.

As for instilling a passion for reading, I was impressed. The author was fabulous and shared so much with the kids about the writing process. For my own son, it was well-timed as he is learning to write sentences, put words together using his frequently-used words, etc. I'll definitely keep my eye open for more experiences like this one. Everyone can--just look to your local library.

Thanks again for commenting.