Going on 100 years, Children's Book Week has been an annual celebration to boost reading at an early age. Children's Book Week, which began Monday and runs through Sunday, May 10, is the oldest reading initiative in the United States, one that deserves recognition and support.
Surprisingly, last year was just the first in which every state held an official event commemorating the initiative. With the program gaining support with schools, libraries, bookstores and families around the country, reading establishes strong roots of learning, understanding and creativity in young minds.
In a series of Washington Post articles, cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham outlined children's attitudes toward reading. His research shows how children reach a peak in the early elementary school years when they either develop a love for reading or begin a gradual descent down the other side.
To urge early reading, a professor from the University of Toronto teamed with a psychologist from York University to evalutate benefits an individual gains from reading. They found that deep reading — not just scrolling through texts or skimming Facebook newsfeeds — not only makes one smarter but also nicer. Taking reading slow and contemplating the details and progression of a story or idea has certain cognitive results that improve our demeanors.
On a broader scale, consistent reading improves societies. Studies in 2010 revealed how literacy actually decreases violence within a community. Of note, an overwhelming majority of incarcerated individuals in American prisons are basically illiterate. In addition to preventing violence, established early reading habits also ensure the mastery of fundamental learning before one moves on to more intricate subjects. High school dropouts are most often those who weren't proficient at reading in early grades.
To encourage early reading, Children's Book Week 2015 is administered in various formats: on Saturday, comic book stores around the country participated in Free Comic Book Day. Throughout this week, Twitter is engaging in the literacy initiative with the #storylines campaign, which will share inspirational quotes from children's books and give Twitter users a platform to share their personal favorites.
And in honor of Mother's Day on Sunday, Children's Book Week will even reach incarcerated mothers in a handful of states, giving them access to books to read to their visiting children or infants in prison nurseries.
Young readers can also collect a free poster, bookmark, tote bag and books at participating bookstores, schools and libraries. Local Utah readers can find events on the Children's Book Week official website, www.bookweekonline.com. Notable events include a book festival at the Provo Library and a series of children's authors hosted by The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City.