Celebrate Reading: National Children’s Book Week

ARON H Aron Holewinski, Media and Communications Intern, and English literature student at Williams College (MA) 

Tueday, April 26, 2011

Westport, CT


Next week is National Children’s Book Week.  A time to celebrate those cherished and tattered books that many of us can recite by heart.

Reading has always been a part of my life.  As a kid, I eagerly awaited for my mom or grandmother to read me a book at bedtime. One of my favorites was “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” about a clever little mouse who asks a boy for a cookie and then keeps asking him for more things.

I remember stories of gallant knights and Western cowboys, buried treasure and Arabian nights. I loved closing my eyes and letting my imagination drift. Later, I seldom ventured without a book. On long car rides in the back seat, or during summer vacations by the pool – I always had a book at hand, and a story to get back to.

Ultimately, fiction is the stuff of life. We learn about each other and the ways we live through reading.

ARON on books

Given my own passion for reading, I am distressed to think that so many children cannot read for themselves. Reading is a fundamental skill that too many children go without.  And, when you don’t know how to read or write, words turn into a jumble of symbols. 

But, that’s where Save the Children’s Literacy Boost program comes in.  It’s a much-needed program to help young kids in grades one to four develop their language and reading skills both inside and outside the classroom. It works by engaging everyone in the community – from teachers, parents and even older children – to help kids learn through simple actions like reading aloud with a child.  

Kids in 10 countries in Africa and Asia are currently enrolled in the program, and, we’re seeing impressive preliminary results. Kids are reading more words per minute, they have a better understanding of what they’re reading and they are excited to showcase their reading skills with others.  
There’s no doubt that my family’s persistent reading aloud, and their steady encouragement to read influenced me.   

I hope other kids get to share that joy, too, so that when they open a book, letters will become words. And words will become stories. And characters will spring to life, opening up a whole new world to them.

Here are some easy ways you can celebrate reading and National Children’s Book Week: 

  1. Read to a child today. 
  2. Share your favorite children’s book in the comments section below. 
  3. Provide picture books for preschoolers in Afghanistan with an $80 donation.

 

Not Your Average Teddy Bear

Dhheadshot Dave Hartman, Save the Children, Internet Marketing and Communications Specialist

Westport, CT

Monday, December 6, 2010

 

My favorite stuffed animal from my childhood was a light-blue bear that I dubbed, Bear. Not the most creative name but I was nine-months-old so cut me some slack.

Bear was my best friend for two reasons. One, he always took my side in an argument with my mother. And two, he was always open for a hug. 

The ever-innovative geniuses at IKEA are behind a new initiative to make stuffed animals not just cute, cuddly and good listeners, but advocates of universal education. 


 

In real life they don’t actually make signs, give speeches or march on Washington but the impact is just as powerful. (Disclaimer: No, they are not alive either.)

For every soft toy sold IKEA donates 1 euro to Save the Children and UNICEF to support our education programs. 

In October, four IKEA employees and two IKEA customers traveled to Vietnam and Bangladesh, respectively, to see first hand the problems facing children, their families and communities and the difference that the money raised by the IKEA soft toy campaign is making.

To say the least, they were all wowed: 


 

 


 

Here are some quotes from the video that capture the impact that education can make in children’s lives.

“Investing in education sounds fantastic, but it’s not until you’re here and you see on the ground the difference its making and the positive ripple effect that it has on communities that you understand the difference that’s being made.”

                                             -Keith McLeish, IKEA Edinburgh  

Our children are studying, so their prospects are so much better.They are mixing with good people and are confident and safer.”

                                             -Mother of Bangladeshi student 

“Even to get to school some kids have to travel 10-15 kilometers, and it’s not by car. They have to walk. So even getting to school is a challenge…If that challenge is met by the children then it should be met by us.

                                              -Nigel McGarry, IKEA Belfast

So in honor of my old chum Bear, who now resides in the attic, join the soft toy movement and help every child realize their right to education.