is reading fundamental?

Some people don’t think so.

As reported in Publishers Weekly and elsewhere, President Bush’s proposed 2009 budget eliminates all funding for RIF, which has provided more than 325 million books to underprivileged children since 1966.

I grew up in a reading family and it wasn’t until high school that I realized how unusual that apparently was, and the privilege I enjoyed. I am sure I would not be the person I am today if I had not been a reader from a young age and I’m already encouraging the younger generation of my family to join the reading club, mostly by keeping them well supplied with books. I highly doubt I’d be a literary agent if my parents had minded that I “borrowed” their library books before they had the opportunity to read the books themselves. Or if I had not had access to a generous school library. Reading habits start young.

If you want to support RIF, you can use this link, or consider a direct donation.

20 responses to “is reading fundamental?

  1. That’s awful news! My elementary school had projects like Sequoyah and Book It! where you could get prizes for reading books. I can’t tell you how many books I read just because of that incentive, but it’s certainly carried over into my adult life of becoming a writer (last year I read over 100 books).
    Reading is important! Starting early is even more important.

  2. Thanks for passing it on. I knew that I was privileged in theory, but I didn’t really get it till I read Krashen’s _Power of Reading_ (the recent edition–I really recommend it! I wish I could send it to all legislators everywhere).

  3. Well, the president figures that since he can’t read, why should anyone else?

  4. When I called the closest Senator’s office, his staff didn’t know about it yet. Hopefully they’re checking out Publisher’s Weekly as I write this…

    • I sent my senator an email when I found out about this a few months ago, and his (automated, no doubt) reply was encouraging. He said that he had been disappointed when he heard the news, and that he would do what he could to change the situation. Whether or not he actually meant what he said I don’t know. But at least he knew about it!

  5. me too
    Hi, Janet,
    I blogged about it too and there is someone from the group that’s fighting it and getting it in the news who sent me a link to their site in the comment section.

    • Remember authors…
      …as a public service announcement to authors seeking representation, please remember to to address your queries to the correct person.

      • Re: Remember authors…
        Good point. Haha! I blushed when I got your email pointing out that I’d called Jennifer “Janet”. I’d just been at Janet Reid’s blog and was obviously brain dead from finishing my revision. At least I wasn’t querying you, Jennifer! Sorry about that!

  6. You don’t know me, but I thank you deeply for posting that link. I’ve submitted a request to my senators; I really, really hope others do the same.
    Losing what little literacy we have is not going to help America deal with enemies, which is supposedly the goal of this cut. No amount of military funding will fix a stupid population.

  7. Woo! I’m so glad you posted this link. I’ve been upset about this since I heard about it some months ago. I send them some money, but I feel like it’s not enough. Us publishing professionals need to band together and do something about this. We have books, after all. And I think it’s important to the future of our industry to foster a love of reading early on.
    I’m rambling. Yeah. I know.

  8. Did that, thanks for the link!

  9. That’s a dumb thing to eliminate.
    Over here in the UK every child gets 3 reading packs (2 books in each + a bunch of other reading stuff) for free.

  10. Reading DOES start young, but having it in the family does not guarantee that new generations pick it up. My mother read few books (but at least more than the general population) (and I don’t know about my father who died when I was four), but I started reading at an early age without anybody giving the example. I’ve had several thousands of books for most of my adult life, but the love for reading has yet to reach my (now grown-up) children. My daughter reads occasionally some fantasy or SF (read the entire original Dune-cycle) but hardly the only thing my son read was Tolkien’s TLOTR-trilogy (which I never read, so there you go). Maybe it just jumps a generation …

  11. Dubya Strikes Again!
    What a shame, but I’m surprised Dubya didn’t gut RIF years ago.
    We have a two and a half year-old boy and we love reading to him. His mother is Spanish and I’m Canadian so he gets read to in Spanish and English, and has a good supply of books in both languages. He also loves to see his name on the dedication page of Papa’s books!
    It’s sad to think that so many of his classmates aren’t being read to outside of school.

  12. Reading is definitely fundamental. My mother was a teacher and bought me books and she and my father read to me as a child. I remember in middle school when kids would look weird when I was reading a book at recess.
    With some much illiteracy already in America, I suppose Dubya just wants to make it worse. Educated people are less likely to commit crimes because they have the education to make money. It’s not rocket science, but for the president, it apparently is. I’m contacting my senator today.

  13. I heard it here first. I wrote my letter, then forwarded the link to people I knew would write one, too. I just got an email back from Wes Yahola — a writer friend who works at a radio station. He forwarded the link to a couple irreverent loons who do the morning show. The email says:
    I forwarded this to the folks at work and Drake latched onto it. He and Zeke have talked several times, today and last week, on the show, and have put the information and link on the D/Z website. They frequently have Congressman Steve Cohen on as a guest and will certainly bring it up the next time they speak with him.
    So I’m very glad you sent this to me, and I’m all kinds of glad they were able to make some noise about it. And if Greg Davis gets elected to Congress, that’ll be two Congressmen who are friends of the show – one more to bring the RiF business to!

    Drake and Zeke do have it posted on their high-traffic website, so cool! (then “Today’s show”)

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