As you may know, today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday. It’s also Read Across America Day, a day that honors one of the most esteemed children’s book authors of all time by encouraging children everywhere to pick up a book and dive into a story. We honor Seuss by celebrating literacy, plain and simple. Yet it’s not so simple when so many kids still don’t have access to books that they’ll actually enjoy. It’s not enough to just encourage kids to pick up a book, we have to make sure they can get their hands on books they actually WANT to read.

What do our kids really want out of their books? Characters that come from backgrounds more like their own, for starters. Let's listen to our kids and give them what they need to become lifelong readers!

It’s Common Sense: Kids read more when they find books they LIKE

The Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report  came out with some not-so-shocking findings: kids are more likely to read if they pick the book. It’s really common sense. How often do you read books for pleasure that you didn’t pick out yourself? I know I’m more likely to finish a story if I actually like it. The answer seems pretty obvious: let kids pick out books to read at home for pleasure!

What Kids Want in Books

From the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report

Obvious answer, yes, but again, not so simple. See, kids have a whole different criteria for picking out books than we do as adults. They don’t just want a genre that appeals to them, they want characters that look like them too. When you’re spinning a world in your head based on words on a page, it’s easier to see yourself in the role of adventurer, magician, dragon tamer, etc if the main character shares at least some common traits with you.

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Parents’ Agreement with Statement: “My child has trouble finding books he/she likes” Base: Parents of Children Ages 6–17

Unfortunately, many kids aren’t finding themselves on the pages of enough books to really become engaged and develop into lifelong readers. This is where We Need Diverse Books™ and Scholastic are getting involved.

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Scholastic Partners with We Need Diverse Books™ to Create More Lifelong Readers

Scholastic Reading Club and We Need Diverse Books™ are working together on eight flyers to be distributed in classrooms with students ranging in age from toddler to teen during the 2016-17 school year. These special-edition flyers will feature award-winning titles, beloved classics, and new releases representing many types of diversity, including race and ethnicity, religion, LGBTQ, disabled characters, and more.

The collaboration is a continuation of an incredibly successful flyer that came out in time for the holidays last year, featuring 75 different books with a wide range of characters from all backgrounds.

If your child’s school doesn’t participate in the Scholastic Reading Club flyers (Jacob’s teachers haven’t sent them home since 2nd grade, sadly), you can still find diverse titles for your kids through the We Need Diverse Books website. They have a list of sites that have their own lists.

I also just discovered that if you go to the Scholastic Reading Club website and sign in (or register), then let them know that you don’t have a teacher to link to, some schools have teachers that volunteer to deliver books to other classrooms. See, you learn something new every day! No more waiting for book fair! Why didn’t anyone tell me this sooner??? Anyway, I digress.

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When kids have access to characters they can relate to, they’re more likely to pick up more books. It’s as simple as that. I appreciate Scholastic and We Need Diverse Books for working so tirelessly to help create more lifelong readers.