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National Young Reader's Day

National Young Reader's Day was founded by Pizza Hut and by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which also founded National Young Readers Week, of which the day is a part of. The week was established "to remind Americans of the joys and importance of reading for kids," and is used by schools, libraries, families, and communities to celebrate reading. National Young Reader's Day was created to focus national attention on the importance of reading. The day is for reading with children, reading to children, and getting children interested in books. Parents and other adults, schools, libraries, and other organizations participate.

In 1988, the Year of the Young Reader was initiated by the Library of Congress to encourage the love of reading in young people. On November 15, 1988, with the passage of Public Law 100-662, Congress designated 1989 as the Year of the Young Reader and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of the year. Accordingly, in December 1988, President Ronald Reagan issued Proclamation 5920, proclaiming 1989 as the Year of the Young Reader. First Lady Barbara Bush was the honorary chairperson for the year. (President George H.W. Bush took office in 1989.)

Pizza Hut and the Library of Congress sponsored the Year of the Young Reader and were behind the first National Young Reader's Day and National Young Readers Week, which were celebrated that November, with National Young Reader's Day being the culmination of the year-long celebration of reading for young people. This wasn't the first foray of Pizza Hut into issues related to literacy for young people. They had already been known for BOOK IT!, a reading incentive program which they began in the mid-1980s, which motivates children to read books during the school year, by helping them set and reach goals, so they can earn Reading Award Certificates that are good for one-topping Personal Pan Pizzas.

In 1989, governors across the nation proclaimed National Young Reader's Day in their states. On the first observance, school and television projects were created, children's books were exchanged between the United States and the Soviet Union, and there was a formal ceremony on the grounds of the Library of Congress. The day has continued to be observed each year, bringing a myriad of benefits to young people.

Reading has a positive effect on developing brains, even on those who are too young to read but are read to. Children who are read to daily are almost a year ahead in basic literacy skills compared to those who aren't read to when they enter school, and they are three to four times less likely to eventually drop out of school. Bonds are also created when children and adults read together. Reading at a young age builds language and communication skills, boosts concentration and develops creativity, imagination, and empathy. It expands knowledge on various topics, as well as a curiosity and thirst for more knowledge.

Children and teens who continue to read will continue to develop vocabulary and writing skills and will enhance their social skills. They will be better able to process and understand more complex concepts, and their overall knowledge will grow. All of these examples demonstrate just how important a day like National Young Reader's Day can be for a young person.

How to Observe

If you are a young person, spend the day reading. Browse a book list like "Best Books of All Time for Teens" or "100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time" to find something that piques your interest. You could also sign up for BOOK IT!

If you are a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or teacher, create a reading culture in your home or classroom. Read to children who are too small to read, read with children, and encourage children to read. Make books available to children in your home, perhaps some from a list such as "The 100 Best Children's Books of All Time" or "Best Children's Books." Bring children to a library or bookstore. Allow children to pick out books about topics that interest them, set reading goals with them, share with them what your favorite books were when you were young, and discuss books that you are reading with them and ask them to share about what they are reading. You could also start a book drive or host a book-themed party. If you are a principal, you could register your school for National Young Readers Week.

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