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A novel approach to reading

March 23, 2006

Elsewhere is today's paper is the second chapter of "Desolation Canyon."

Unlike the rest of what is printed in The Herald-Mail, it's fiction, of the type we call a "children's serial novel."

Every Tuesday and Thursday between now and Thursday, May 11, another chapter will be published in The Herald-Mail. Parents and children are encouraged to read the chapter together, then paste it in to a scrapbook that was inserted into the paper this past Tuesday.

We're doing this, with the generous support of our partners at First Data, because we believe that reading is vitally important to the success of our community and its citizens.

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Two years ago, the president of the Washington County Reading Council estimated that 17 percent of county residents couldn't read at a sixth-grade level.

If that sounds good enough to "get by," consider that it takes at least a ninth-grade level to understand the U.S. Constitution.

If your child can't read well enough to understand his or her rights as a citizen, how difficult would it be for somebody to take them away from them?

Thomas Jefferson, one of the nation's Founding Fathers, put literacy in its proper perspective when he said this:

"When the press is free and every man able to read, all is well."

We agree, but we need parents' help to make sure the next generation of county citizens are good readers, not only so they can succeed in life, but also so they can keep up with what local government is doing with their tax dollars.

Reading together helps children and their parents form stronger bonds, but it also helps students to become better-educated.

In 2003, the National Center for Family Literacy cited research that showed that children who were read to by their parents were twice as likely to have good language skills.

Reading is fun and it's good for you, too. So join us every Tuesday and Thursday to find out how "Desolation Canyon" turns out.

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