Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Feature: Libraries, Books and Language

On Monday, I wrote about my favorite local library and some of the many things it inspired. I'm embarrassed to admit how much long it it'd been since I'd visited my library, but my absence doesn't mean I haven't been reading. I'm fortunate enough to have reliable Internet access (most of the time anyway) and both the expendable income and transportation necessary to access the books I need in other ways and from other sources.

But what if I weren't? What if I were unable to drive or unable to afford to buy the books I wanted? What if I had small children just learning the value of books and the magical worlds between their covers? Though we have an extensive collection of books at our house, our library was still a major source of reading material for our daughter between the ages of three and sixteen. She is now a successful college sophomore.

This is not an accident.

Children in poverty have less access to language in general. They need access to books in order to close the gap between them and their peers. By the time children living in poverty are 5 years old, they've heard 30 million fewer words than their wealthy peers. This places them at a disadvantage from which many never recover.

Children learn language through interaction -- through conversations, books, songs -- anything with words. When parents read to their children, this simple act builds connection, language skills, imagination and so much more. Public libraries provide access to this simple tool that builds both cognition and connection. 

Why not show yours a little love?

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