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Books plays a big role in a child's reading habits

Access to books plays a big role in a child's reading habits
By Eugenia Sotelo

The Statesman Journal, November 4, 2012      PDF click here

It has been well established that access to books is an important factor at whether children will read or not. Research clearly has showed that those children who have more access to books read more than those who often lack the opportunity of accessibility to books (Krashen, 2007).  Lack of access of books includes not having a library close to their neighborhood, not having enough books in libraries, or in the classrooms within the school.  Often if there is a library within the classroom or within the school they do not have books which children are interested in reading from.  On the other hand, children from high-income families are able to find and buy books in other places such as bookstores with children’s and adolescent’s books are more accessible (Neuman and Celano, 2001).

About a year ago, I moved to Salem, Oregon and I began looking for the library and other places where I could find books. I discovered that one of the local libraries was located down town and soon it was announced a local bookstore was closing its business. I began to question, how children can read and parents with them to model reading to their children if they do not have accessibility to books especially in the north part of Salem.  I shared my concern about book access in these neighborhoods to a first grade teacher. The teacher agreed lack access to books is a problem among neighborhood with high poverty.  She then commented, “Well, if children do not have physical books it does not mean they are not reading because we have technology today.”  “My children do their reading in their Ipad.” As gently as I could ask, I asked, “How many students have an Ipad or at least a computer in their home?”  She gave no response.  I still continue to believe children in high poverty neighborhoods have less access to books whether electronic or physical. 

 Finally, we understand accessibility to books provides many benefits for parents and children.  Books give children the opportunity to explore a whole new world including the development of literacy skills such as how to recognize letters, shapes, pictures, colors, and much more.  Additionally, reading time can be a bonding moment with parents/caregivers, and their children will feel love and nurture by their parents/caregivers.  Also, during my search for libraries and books in the north part of Salem, I learned about Reading for AllReading for All is working and joining efforts with community and local schools to collect books from donations to distribute books throughout Marion County.  They also concentrate promoting reading and distributing books in some of these areas where books access for children is very limited.  

Krashen, S. (2007). Literacy Campaigns: Access to Books is the First Step. Literacy Network News, Spring. pp 7.
Neuman, S. and Celano, D. (2001). Access to Print in Low-income and Middle-income Communities. Reading Research Quarterly, 36(1), 8-26.

Eugenia Sotelo
Portland State University Intern
Marion County Children’s Mental Health Services