This week, I had the opportunity to attend the Illinois Women's Health Conference sponsored by the Illinois Dept. of Public Health in Springfield, Illinois. The closing speaker was Amy Dickinson, a nationally renowned syndicated advice columnist from the Chicago Tribune. She talked about how important it is for women to take care of themselves and find something in their lives that they enjoy doing---and making time to do it. She regaled us with stories about the many women in her family who have supported each other through divorces, foreclosures, single parenthood, caregiving and other challenges. She complimented the audience, many of them public health nurses, on the important work they do and how important it is that they keep doing it---while finding some time for themselves. She was truly engaging with her easy going, and real, storytelling.
She ended her remarks by announcing a campaign to encourage children to read. Her campaign is called "A Book on Every Bed" and here is how it works: pick out a children's book, wrap it, place it on a child's bed so it's the first thing they see when they wake up Christmas (or any holiday your family celebrates) morning--before all the chaos of more traditional gift exchanges. Amy told us she was inspired by Pulitizer Prize winner David McCullough who told her about waking up as a child on Christmas morning with a wrapped book on his bed.
Many people believe that kids who are exposed to books early in life have a head start on learning. They are also more likely to love reading. In this high tech world of texting and short cuts to writing, far too many children may grow up without the pleasure of getting to know Tom Sawyer, Yertle the Turtle, Babar the Elephant, Anne of Green Gables or Black Beauty. So I encourage everyone to join Amy in the "A Book on Every Bed" campaign and let us know how your experience went!