READ ACROSS AMERICA!

March 02, 2018 at 4:45 am

Friday, March 2 marks Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Tony Marx, president of the New York Public Library, is here with the details on the literary celebrations.

Aired on March 1, 2018. 

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>>> IN MAY OF 1997, A SMALL
READING TASK FORCE, THE NATIONAL
EDUCATION ASSOCIATION INDICATION
UP WITH A BIG IDEA.
LET'S CREATE A DAY TO CELEBRATE
READING.
THEY PICKED MARCH 2, THE
BIRTHDAY OF CHILDREN'S AUTHOR
DR. SEUSS TO CELEBRATE THIS
ANNUAL READING MOTIVATION AND
AWARENESS PROGRAM, AND SO WAS
BORN THE LARGEST CELEBRATION OF
READING THIS COUNTRY HAS EVER
SEEN, NOW IN ITS 20th YEAR, BUT
NOW IN PUBLIC LIBRARIES THEY
TREAT EVERY DAY LIKE IT'S
NATIONAL READING DAY.
I DO WANT TO TALK ABOUT WHAT
YOU'RE DOING, BECAUSE IT'S AN
ASTONISHING ARRAY OF SERVICES
THAT YOU PROVIDE.
BUT LET ME JUST START WITH THIS
NOTION OF CELEBRATING THIS BIG
IDEA, READING ACROSS AMERICA.
I TALKED ABOUT HOW IT GOT
STARTED, HOW HAS IT PLAYED OUT,
DO YOU THINK?
>> WE LOVE THIS DAY AND WE
CELEBRATE IT IN SO MANY OF YOU
ARE
ARE -- OUR BRANCHES, IN THAT WE
HAVE CRAFTS AND EXTRA EVENTS
WITH CELEBRITIES AT THE MAIN
BRANCH ON 42nd STREET.
WE TRY TO DO THIS THROUGHOUT THE
SYSTEM.
BUT YOU STOLE MY LINE, EVERY DAY
IS A READING DAY AT THE LIBRARY.
>> WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT, DO
YOU THINK, THAT WE SEIZE UPON
THESE DAYS AND THESE EVENTS IN
TERMS OF READING AND --
>> WE HAVE TO TAKE EVERY
OPPORTUNITY TO TELL KIDS AND
TELL PARENTS AND CARE GIVERS
THAT THEY HAVE TO READ TOGETHER,
THEY HAVE TO LEARN TO READ, THIS
IS HOW KIDS' BRAINS ARE FORMED,
THIS IS HOW THEY ADVANCE
DEVELOPMENTALLY, IT'S HOW THEY
LEARN TO BE CREATIVE, IT'S HOW
THEY LEARN TO IMAGINE OTHER
POSSIBILITIES, OTHER WORLDS, HOW
THEY LEARN ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE,
HOPEFULLY TO LIVE TOGETHER WITH
OTHER PEOPLE, WHICH IS ESSENTIAL
IN NEW YORK AND EVERYWHERE ELSE.
IF WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A
CITIZENSHIP AND A DEMOCRACY IS,
WE BETTER START ON THIS EARLY,
IT'S HOW YOU GAIN THE SKILLS SO
YOU CAN KEEP LEARNING AND GAIN
JOBS, ALL OF IT COMES FROM
READING.
TO COIN A PHRASE, IT'S
FUNDAMENTAL.
>> DO YOU FIND IT'S BECOMING
MORE OF AN UPHILL BATTLE?
WE HEAR PEOPLE DECRYING THE
DEATH KNELL OF READING AND
ONLINE GAMES.
>> YOU'RE SEEING COMPETITION IN
A WAY WE DIDN'T BEFORE.
THOSE LITTLE BOXES WE CARRY,
THOSE SHINY OBJECTS, THOSE ARE
ALL COMPETITION.
LET ME GIVE YOU SOME SURPRISING
FACTS.
THE PUBLIC LIBRARIES AS A WHOLE,
ALL THE LIBRARIES AS A WHOLE,
GET ABOUT 40,000 VISITORS A
YEAR, THAT'S ALL THE LIBRARIES
COMBINED.
AND IT'S GOING UP.
WE REACHED 700,000 VISITS FOR
PRE-K LITERACY PROGRAM.
THAT'S THANKS TO THE MAYOR AND
THE STATE AND THE CITY AND THE
STATE AND THE GOVERNOR, WE HAVE
BEEN ABLE TO EXPAND THAT 700% IN
THE LAST FEW YEARS.
WHEN THESE KIDS LEAVE THIS
PROGRAM, WE SAY TAKE A BOOK
HOME, HERE'S A LIBRARY CARD.
IN THIS YEAR, CIRCULATION FOR
PRINT MEDIA FOR KIDS AT THE NEW
YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY IS UP 27% IN
ONE YEAR.
>> WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?
>> I THINK THERE'S A RESURGENCE
OF READING, IT'S SUCH A
WONDERFUL THING TO DO WITH YOUR
KIDS.
WHEN I WAS RAISING MY KIDS, WE
WOULD HAVE A SPECIAL TIME RIGHT
BEFORE BEDTIME.
WE HAD FAVORITE BOOKS, THEY
COULDN'T HEAR THEM ENOUGH, EVEN
WHEN YOU COULD NEVER START TOO
EARLY.
WAY BEFORE THEY CAN EVEN THINK
ABOUT READING, THEY JUST LOVE
THE TIME TOGETHER AND THE WORDS
AND THE PICTURES.
>> WE WOULD DO IT WITH BOTH OF
OUR CHILDREN, AND NOW DO IT OUR
GR
GRANDCHILD, WE READ OUR SON A
BOOK SO OFTEN THAT HE BASICALLY
KNEW IT BY HEART BY 3 YEARS OLD.
MY WIFE IS LIKE HE'S SO SMART.
HE'S JUST MEMORIZED IT.
YOU DO GREAT THINGS WITH THE
DIGITAL WORLD, TELL ME ABOUT
THAT.
>> WITH THE PREVIOUS WHITE HOUSE
WE STARTED A PROGRAM THAT HAS A
MILLION KIDS READING BOOKS
ONLINE FOR FREE.
WE HAVE LAUNCHED AN APP THAT
ANYONE CAN DOWNLOAD, IT'S CALLED
SIMPLY E, IT'S IN THE APP STORE.
YOU GET ON IT AND TWO CLICKS YOU
CAN READ ANY ONE OF 300,000
BOOKS.
KIDS OR GROWN UPS, YOU CAN EVEN
APPLY FOR YOUR LIBRARY CARD
ONLINE NOW.
I'M NOT SATISFIED WITH 300,000
TITLES.
I'LL BE SATISFIED WHEN EVERY
BOOK EVER PRINTED IS AVAILABLE
TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD FOR FREE
THROUGH THEIR LIBRARY, THAT'S
THE HOLY GRAIL.
>> WHAT A WONDERFUL DREAM THAT
IS.
>> AND WE'RE GOING TO GET THERE.
>> AND YOU'VE BEEN HELPING OUT
ALSO LOW INCOME FAMILIES.
TELL US ABOUT THAT.
>> LOOK, IF YOU GROW UP IN
POVERTY, IN THE CITY OR ANYWHERE
IN THE COUNTRY, YOU WILL JUST
HEAR MILLIONS OF LESS WORDS THAN
KIDS WHO GREW UP WHERE FAMILIES
ARE SPENDING MORE TIME WITH EACH
OTHER, TALKING WITH EACH OTHER,
THEY HAVE MORE TIME, BECAUSE
PEOPLE WHO HAVE TO WORK TWO OR
THREE JOBS DON'T HAVE THAT TIME.
SO IS JUST FILLING THAT WORD GAP
MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE FOR LIFE
CHOICES.
THEN LEARNING TO READ OPENS UP
THE WORLD FOR YOU.
LOOK, HERE'S A SIMPLE FACT WHICH
IS A BIT SHOCKING, OR SHOCKING
TO ME.
I EXPECTED THAT WE WOULD FIND
CIRCULATION FOR KIDS AND GROWN
UPS IN THE POORER NEIGHBORHOODS
OF NEW YORK, IN THOSE LIBRARIES
WAS GREATER THAN IN THE MIDDLE
CLASS NEIGHBORHOODS, BECAUSE IN
THE MIDDLE CLASS NEIGHBORHOODS,
I FIGURED, WELL, PEOPLE WILL BUY
BOOKS, GET THEM ONLINE,
SUBSCRIBE, WHATEVER.
NOW KIDS IN THE POORER
NEIGHBORHOODS ARE LOOKING AT
ONE-THIRD FEWER BEOOKS.
WE HAVE TO GIVE EVERYONE AN
EQUAL START.
IT'S NOT EASY, SOME PARENTS ARE
EMBARRASSED ABOUT THEIR OWN
READING SKILLS.
>> YEAH, RIGHT.
>> WE HAVE A PROGRAM IN RIKERS
WHERE WE LET THE FOLKS WHO ARE
INCARCERATED THERE READ ONLINE
VISUAL CHATS WITH THEIR KIDS, IF
THEIR KIDS CAN'T COME AND VISIT.
SOMETIMES THEY SAY CAN YOU HELP
ME LEARN HOW TO READ BETTER SO I
CAN READ WITH MY KIDS BETTER?
IT'S HEART WARMING.
THROUGH THE CITY.
THE OTHER BIG STORY HERE IS, WE
CAN DO MORE AND MORE ONLINE,
WHICH MEANS WE CAN SIT HOME
ALONE IN FRONT OF OUR LITTLE
SCREENS OR WITH THEM IN OUR
HANDS, AND MORE AND MORE PEOPLE
DON'T WANT TO DO THAT, WE WANT
TO LIVE TOGETHER, WE WANT TO SIT
TOGETHER, WE WANT TO BE INSPIRED
BY BEAUTIFUL SPACES.
WHEN YOUR PUBLIC LIBRARY IS
SPENDING NEARLY A BILL YBILLION
DOLLARS ON FIXING UP ABOUT HALF
OF OUR BRANCHES, WE'RE SPENDING
$300 MILLION IN THE MAIN
BUILDING.
I CONFESS, GROWING UP IN
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS I NEVER WENT
INTO, BECAUSE I THOUGHT IT WAS
TOO INTIMIDATING.
NOW WE WANT TO INVITE EVERY
SCHOOL KID IN NEW YORK, AND
EVERY VISIT FOR IN.
AND THE PLACE IS BURSTING WITH
LIFE.
>> SORRY FOR STEALING YOUR LINE,
EVERY DAY IS A MARVELOUS DAY FOR
READING.
>> THINK GOT A WORLD WHERE THAT
ISN'T THE CASE.
WE HAVE CHALLENGES IN THE WORLD
TODAY, WE CAN DO BETTER.
WE CAN DO BETTER.
>> YOU ARE DOING BETTER, TONY,
CONGRATULATIONS ON THE MARVELOUS
WORK AND EVERYBODY CONNECTED
WITH THE PUBLIC LIBRARY.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON NEW YORK
PUBLIC LIBRARY'S PROGRAMS AND
READ ACROSS AMERICA, LOG ON TO
METROFOCUS.ORG.