The nation’s largest children’s literacy nonprofit, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), created a PSA featuring some of the world’s most celebrated children’s book characters alongside “Reading Rainbow” host LeVar Burton. It got me thinking: What book would you give someone who has never owned a book?
RIF’s video isn’t new. It was posted to YouTube on April 12, but it had me tapping my toes Friday:
In the video, beloved characters such as Pinocchio, Madeline, the Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Blind Mice travel by land, sea and air. They’re all singing a song, produced by hip-hop band The Roots. The supporting vocals are a who’s-who list of artists, including Burton, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, John Legend, actor and musician Jack Black, Jason Schwartzman, singer-songwriter Regina Spektor, Fun’s Nate Ruess, R&B artist Melanie Fiona and rapper and producer Consequence.
RIF was founded in 1966, and has, as the Post’s Janice D’Arcy reports, distributed more than 380 million free books to children most in need. The movement, called “Book People Unite,” is backed by RIF in partnership with the Library of Congress, and is sponsored by the Ad Council. The movement was created to ignite “a culture of reading across America.”
In the interest of full disclosure, I grew up with Burton reading to me over the television screen and was heartbroken when the show aired its last episode in 2009. Now, I read books on a screen. I often think nothing of the fact that I can reach into my handbag, pull out a tablet and resume reading any one of around 20 books I’ve started. I tap my finger and, like magic, I’m right back where I started. With another few swipes, I’m taking notes and highlighting passages. I’m able to do all of this even as there are children in the world who may never own a book of their own.
Michael Dirda, The Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for Book World, asked readers to list some of their superlative reads (most exciting, cleverest mystery, best biography, etc.). I’d like to take it a step further. If you knew someone who had never owned a book, which book would you give him or her? Leave your book suggestions in the comments below or tag @oninnovations on Twitter.
Update 3:16p.m.: RIF posted this behind-the-scenes video as well.
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