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Thursday, January 26, 2012

National Book Month

For many of you who thought October was National Book Month, surprise! January is also known as the month to get your book on. And I'm not complaining. I don't mind another excuse to exercise my literary muscles, but research shows that a large portion of the 18–24-year-old American population doesn't read for pleasure (August 2010: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703846604575448093175758872.html).

That's a very sad number for the future of our youth. With the invention of eReaders, these numbers are starting to change, but we have our work cut out for us as parents. The best way to encourage a love of books and reading is to read with your children, and model the desired behavior by reading yourself. I know my house is littered with stacks of books, and both my young daughters have a bookshelf stacked with a plethora of age-appropriate books. But what if you aren't part of the avid reader population? What if you want to read more or expand your reading repertoire? National Book Month is a great time to discover an American writer!

One place to get reading ideas is the list of National Book Award winners. Every year since 1950, a book is selected from a genre: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people's literature. Some of the winners include Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," John Irving's "The World According to Garp," and "Cold Mountain" by Charles Frazier.

Another place to locate your next read would be your local library. Most have a display showcasing current hot topics or popular works. If you have a certain genre you prefer or an author you enjoy, your librarian can help you find another book that would fit your tastes. And what better way to celebrate National Book Month than to visit the library and show your support? Check out the bulletin board while you're there to find info on joining a book club. Book clubs offer another great option for expanding your reading list or jumping into reading for enjoyment. It's always more fun to discuss the book with someone or encourage each other to keep reading a little further if you experience a reading rut.

When in doubt though, start with the classics. William Faulkner, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, Edith Wharton, and John Steinbeck all offer something that is sure to get you started. Or if you prefer more modern literature, why not pick up that novel your daughter has been reading? There are some quick and exciting page turners in the young adult genre. It will give you something for the two of you to discuss and maybe even provide some insight as to the current trends and issues facing the youth of today.

Whatever your approach, use this opportunity to enjoy what American authors have to offer. Pick something that lets you escape from the stresses of life, and learn more about yourself through the eyes and life of another person. You might come away a more enriched person and then as a family, beat the statistics.

Post submitted by Amy from The Mommies Network's Content Team

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