Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Sunday, July 17, 2005

At Your Fingertips

by Senator Larry Craig

As I write this, the newest Harry Potter book is scheduled to go on sale in just a few short hours. In some parts of the country, people started lining up many hours, or even days before sales were set to begin. What has become a commonplace practice – waiting hours upon hours to be able to buy a book – was completely unheard of when I was growing up. It was unheard of 10 years ago!

Nevertheless, it is refreshing to see young people with a renewed interest in reading today, because it is such a vital part of a child’s education. Developing strong reading skills can unlock the gate to creative development and learning in all academic fields. Recent statistics from the National Assessment of Educational Progress reflect this renewed interest, showing that 9-year olds’ reading skills have risen since 1971, and the largest improvements have come in the last five years.

Parents, if you don’t already, I encourage you to read with your children as much as possible. Reading together not only provides you with an opportunity to spend time together, it helps stimulate a child’s imagination and the desire to either learn to read themselves, or to become better readers in the future. There are many studies that have been published over the years that document the benefits children receive from reading with an adult. You provide them with a role model and demonstrate many of the qualities required to mature into an adult.

If you aren’t sure what to read with your child, or how to encourage them to read themselves, visit the website for the U.S. Department of Education at http://www.ed.gov. There is a section for parents, with links to publications to help you choose books to read with your children and tips to instill a love of reading in them.

I love to read whenever I have a few minutes of free time. I always enjoy a good novel, but I also enjoy reading biographies about our Founding Fathers and other historical Americans. These give me a greater understanding of our great nation and the vision that great men like George Washington, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson had for the United States of America. And reading books about men like Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery remind me of some of the great accomplishments in our history, and what a huge achievement it was to settle the West and what became our State of Idaho.

Reading has enriched my life, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Sir Richard Steele accurately stated that “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body,” and Mark Twain said “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.”

Summer is a great time for kids of all ages to crack open a book and keep the mind sharp. And it’s never too early to start reading with your children.

For all you kids out there, it’s half way through the summer! Did your teacher give you a reading list for the break? If so, have you looked at it? I remember that when I was a kid, the summer was always packed full of fun things to do, and I know it still is. But there are also plenty of opportunities to read and let your imagination run wild. You can go to all sorts of interesting and far-away places, and meet lots of famous and interesting people – without leaving your favorite seat at the local library. With a book, it’s all at your fingertips.

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