Ever since the era of Slow Reading came along, sometime last Tuesday, readers from all over have been sending me the news. Today, I open the ever-expanding goody bag to share a few shiny baubles with you.
Books help kids do better on bubble tests. It’s not every day that I like what I read in columns by David Brooks. Still, he’s always smart and worth a read, and this time he brings good news. Apparently, two recent studies confirm what book lovers already know. In the first one, a bunch of underprivileged kids each got to choose 12 free books to read over the summer, and surprise, surprise, they ended up with higher reading scores than peers who didn’t get books. Personally I would have dispensed with the study and just given every child a bag full of books.
The second study actually surprised me. It tracked 500,000 kids in grades 5-8, and found that kids with high-speed internet at home are getting lower scores on math and reading tests. That’s a lot of kids logging a lot of hours not reading books.
Who Needs a Monitor When You’ve Got Books on the School Bus? Remember those mornings on a school bus crammed full of laughing, screaming kids throwing sandwiches and hitting each other over the head? Well, it never happens on one school bus in Florida. The driver Miss Kookyi (aka Rosemary Peterson) found a way to quiet her little charges: give them books. They choose their own books and read all the way to school, then write book reports for prizes. The competition is fierce, and every kid’s a winner. I don’t know if anyone’s given Miss Kookyi a prize yet, but surely she deserves one.
Convicted Criminals Get Reading Time Instead of Jail. Judges in eight states now have an alternative to sending offenders to prison. Instead, they put books in their hands and send them to reading groups. I don’t know about you, but this makes my heart leap up. Some participants have never read a book before, and through reading and discussion, their lives really do change. The program more than halves the rate of recidivism, and compared to the cost of throwing people in jail, it’s virtually free. Let’s send a shout of thanks to the program that makes it possible: “Changing Lives Through Literature.”
And finally comes this little goody:
Study Hall for Grown-Ups. If you’re ever in Seattle on a lovely Wednesday evening, be sure to drop by the Fireside Room in the Sorrento Hotel. It’s a reading party. The place fills to the rafters with people who bring their books, sink down into posh chairs amid the velvet drapes, and proceed to read. Silently, together. There are waiters. Lattes. Adult beverages. Snacks. This may be the best book event ever. And it happens every week.
So there you have a taste of what’s in the treasure box. If we had to sum it up, we would say simply, Keep Reading. Give Books to Kids. To Criminals. To Seattle-ites. In short, to people everywhere and of all ages with nothing better to do, because, really. IS there anything better?
Keep sending me the good news from wherever you are.