This week of May 2-8, 2011 is Children’s book week. The official website to promote this week is www.bookweekonline.com where more information about it can be obtained. They have an important quote listed on their “About” page – “A great nation is a reading nation." That is a statement I sincerely believe in. If we want to keep our country great one important factor is keeping people literate. Reading needs to be encouraged to keep growing fertile minds of creativity and critical thinking. We as a society need to start with the young which is the importance of Children’s book week. Then of course all ages need to continue to read to keep reading at the forefront of culture.
Earlier this week I experienced one way to encourage reading in children and adults. In the nearby city of McAllen, they had their first International Book Fair May 1-3. I remembered the Book Fairs when I was living in Chicago. Especially the 57th Street Book Fair down near the University of Chicago campus. The book readings and the books from various publishers on display made for an atmosphere to promote the joy of reading. I knew this one in McAllen would not be comparable since it was just starting out. But as I have said since my daughter calls me Mr. Bookhead, where there are books I must go. I was not able to attend the first day but went out early on the Monday morning. I made it to the McAllen Convention Center at the starting time. Knowing the Rio Grande Valley I should have known that Monday morning is not the best time to attend any kind of Fair.
As I walked into the main hall I noticed a small amount of the booth spaces were open. There was a Publisher from Mexico there which makes sense as this is a Border town. The local Barnes & Nobles had a large booth space. There were a couple of Christian Bookstores open and to my surprise a used bookstore. I had been in the Valley for 10 years and did not know McAllen has several Used bookstores.
In speaking with people there I found out that Sunday had been very crowded which was encouraging to hear. They were anticipating more people to come out in the afternoon. Local schools had been invited as well to bring children. That was a positive idea to invite the schools to the event. Probably a Saturday, Sunday , and Monday timeframe would have been better.
As I was leaving, I met the man who dreamed up the book fair event. His name is Oscar Moreno. He shared how his family as he was growing up encouraged reading. Book fairs his father took him to in Mexico caught his interest in reading. Oscar brought up a concern he has how so much of free time in the Valley is spent watching movies and videos so he wanted this book fair as a way to encourage more reading in the Valley. I encouraged him to keep up letting this event grow in the future as it is a tool to help encourage reading. I have a lot of respect for a man such as this who took his dream and brought it to fruition. He shared how many people scoffed at the idea, even well educated lawyers. I told him not to let negativity from others to dissuade him from doing this again. Hopefully his idea will expand to the Lower valley of San Benito and Brownsville.
When you have the opportunity to attend a Book Fair take the opportunity. It helps you see what book stores are in the area. They offer opportunities to meet authors and learn more about the writing process. The experience can also open the minds of young children and young people the importance of reading.
Reflection: How are you encouraging the joy of reading in children that you know? Mark on your calendar next years date for Children’s Book Week - 2012: May 7 – 13. Take a moment to reflect over the last book you read for enjoyment.