Famous Readers: 5 Celebrities That Encourage Literacy
Many parents grew up in the days well before the internet. We grew up in a time when you couldn’t download YouTube videos, iPods and the latest and greatest app instantly. We didn’t have the constant distractions of the current video/computer-driven generation. We had to create those lost alien worlds of Halo within our own minds. And in our hands we held the books as the keys for constructing the worlds of our imaginations with, sometimes your run-of-the-mill paperback or our favorite comic book, but a book, just the same.
When we try to instill this love of reading to our own tech-savvy children, they look up with blank faces. Educators, particularly those instructed by modern university programs that emphasize reading curriculum and instruction, know how absolutely critical it is to effectively develop those little brains of theirs. But parents and educators alike grapple with how can books possibly compete in this world of instant technology and multi-media? And how can you encourage your children to begin to read?
Well, one way is to use celebrities. There are a whole slew of celebrities who are passionate about literacy, and who can help you convince your children that reading is fun, cool, and important.
Actor Tom Arnold, for instance, uses his celebrity to encourage children and writers of all ages to become literate and devoted to the art of reading and writing. As a writer himself he has set a writing scholarship for writers, and is involved with the group, “Best Buddies, International”. You and your child can listen to him read aloud to the all-popular “Arthur” series on www.speakaboos.com, a website created by celebrities who want to encourage this newest generation to share in the love of reading, storytelling and the process through which a story unfolds. Have your child read along with Tom Arnold as the story unfolds – having a famous person to associate reading with might encourage your child to work hard on his or her skills, and hearing the story read by a recognizable voice will encourage him or her to practice reading with Tom over and over.
Oprah Winfrey is another super-famous celebrity who’s passionate about literacy. Unless you’ve been living on a remote desert island or under a rock for the past ten years you’ve no doubt heard Ms. Winfrey tote her widespread love of reading to about every person on the planet. Again, Oprah uses her celebrity in a positive light, encouraging young readers to grab on to that all-important passion for reading. Her book clubs for her older viewers were so popular they have made unknown writers millionaires overnight. But what about the younger set? Again, no need to look any further than her website. Check out www.oprah.com to find a book club list for younger fans.
Is your son a sports or Lakers fan? Does he live, breathe and eats layups and jump shots? Has he worn purple and gold since the minute he was old enough to dress himself? Can he recite every statistical percentage on every players going back three generations? I know my son can. But when it comes to reading, my son used to be way too busy dribbling and making that fast break to waste time with a book. If your son or daughter is ultra-sporty like mine, do not fret, all is not lost. Many professional athletes recognize their position as role models, and use to encourage their fans to work hard at school and reading. In fact, one of the Lakers most recognizable stars may be just the one to pull your little point guard off the court for a little reading bench time. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has joined the READ campaign, an organization promoting the importance of reading for young people. Yes, even sports stars find time to read, that means your own Kobe should keep a book handy on the ride home from practice. Reading can happen anywhere.
If your son or daughter has struggled with school and is found to have a learning disability that makes them loathe reading, don’t give up. Many celebrities, such as U2’s own superstar, Bono, work to help children with disabilities. Bono supports the organization Mencap, which is devoted to helping those children and adults who suffer from the devastating effects of learning disabilities. The figure of Bono can encourage children with learning abilities to work hard, and also encourage without learning abilities to be kind and supportive of those who do have them.
Does your preteen daughter can sing along to every word of Justin Bieber’s bubblegum pop on the radio but struggles to finish a book? Well, the fact that Justin Bieber is a member of Pencils of Promise campaign, might convince her that she can do other things than just sing to impress smart, successful celebrity figures. the fan that she is, but you recently read something that has turned your opinion of the young celebrity. Even though you still might not be able to stomach, “Baby, baby” you may be able to use Bieber’s appealing pop to encourage your daughter to study hard and give back to others who are much less fortunate, just like Bieber.
Many Americans, including children, are fascinated by celebrities. Whether it’s the guilty pleasure of reality television shows or just watching the latest, “Iron Man” we have become addicted to those famous people. Why not use this fascination to channel your children’s interests towards a good book? Don’t forget, reading is FUNdamental.