With the school abuzz about our new enlarged reading week program, Read for Life – Go for the Gold, I have been thinking a lot about reading. Growing up, I was a voracious reader. I always had a book, sometimes several, that I was working my way through. I even recall getting in trouble a few times at school for discretely (or at least I thought I was being discrete) hiding a book under my desk. I still read constantly, both professionally and for pleasure. It is a habit that I don’t want to kick.

Reading with my children has been one of the joys of parenting for me. Even before we were sure that they could understand what they were hearing, we have been reading books. It started out simple with books like “But Not the Hippopotamus” by Sandra Boynton and as the girls have aged we have moved on to more sophisticated books. Recently, we have taken the plunge into chapter books. It has been an incredible experience to see my daughters sit enraptured by classics that I remember reading when I was young.

When we look at the benefits of reading, we talk about how reading at an early age helps brain development and generally promotes positive outcomes from children. More recently, I have read that reading has the power to shape our students into strong leaders. Reading can enhance abstract reasoning skills, broaden horizons, and increase vocabulary. In my own personal reading, I often find that reading outside of my professional field stimulates new thinking. Perhaps, most importantly, reading can reduce stress and increase our ability to be empathetic. All of these are vital to developing leadership skills.

If we know all of this, then the answer is simple – let’s get our kids (and ourselves reading). Our overall goal during Read for Life – Go for the Gold is to instill a love reading in our students. You will be hearing about grade level challenges to complete books, magazines, and basically read anything with print on it (yes, that includes comic books). Encourage your children to jump feet first into these challenges and find books that inspire them.

We want everyone to get involved in our Olympic-themed reading events. Come help out at the Scholastic Book Fair, November 21-December 5. Schlep your children to the library to feed their reading habit. And, perhaps most importantly, have them see you curl up with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa and share with them your experience of being instantly transported away to a different place or time.

Shabbat Shalom,
Dr. Ari Yares

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