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Help for parents who push reading

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Posted: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 4:33 pm

Cyndi Carter and Peter Breech are putting together our second annual Little Buckeroos Reading Roundup.

It is just one way parents can make reading fun for kids. It will be held Saturday, August 24, on Locust Street between the Library and the Sentinel building downtown. Watch for ads online and in the paper; here's a link to Rich's write-up about last year's event; and this links to the Facebook page

Cyndi asked me to write the welcoming message for the program this year and that inspired me to remember a funny story about pushing reading on one my kids.

Here's the message for the August 2013 event:

Parents,

I commend you for bringing your youngsters to the Reading Roundup. Teaching kids to read isn’t easy in today’s multi-media world.

You’d think a newspaper publisher and the author of history books would have children born to love reading. Well, not this publisher and not my historian wife Christi Kennedy Weybret.

As kids, both our boys were nutty for video games, movies, sports shows, and music on iPods — everything but reading.

Christi and I hounded them about it until Mike, a natural-born debater even in fifth grade, rebelled.

“Dad! Why do I have to read?”

Words failed me. I was literally struck dumb for a minute.

Well, Mike, look at it this way. Most worthwhile knowledge is written down. Videos are expensive and hard to make. Committees, investors and technicalities water down the message. If you don’t read, you’ll become a slave to videographers.

Imagine what went through my mind years later as he walked on stage at San Diego State University and received his diploma in film and video production. The slave to video had become a master of writing with pictures and sound.

But that’s not how the story ends. Because before he was out of high school, Mike came to love reading.

“Harry Potter was the first time I realized that reading could be fun,” he told me recently. “Now I read every day. I read for pleasure and for research. Reading is the easiest, fastest and most efficient way to learn.”

When I see his brother Rob bent over his fire-fighting and paramedic training books, I get a feeling he agrees.

And as for the role of reading in today’s media, Mike reminded me of this:

“Before anything’s on a TV, movie or computer screen, you have to write it down as a script. You pass it out, and all the directors, production people and actors have to read it. There is no video without words.”

Thank you for being a parent who pushes reading. The message may not stick at first. But when it does, don’t be surprised if it is reinterpreted in a surprising, new way.

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