Give the gift of reading
There’s a tradition in Iceland that’s worth noting—books are exchanged as Christmas Eve presents. Recipients then spend the rest of the night in bed reading them and eating chocolate! The custom is part of a season called Jolabokaflod, or “’The Christmas book flood’. It’s a fitting name since Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country, and sells most of them September through November when people are getting ready for the holidays.
Chocolate and reading sound like quite the team even though I’m not a chocolate lover. Some folks may have other issues with reading. Can’t find a good book to read? According to Google, 129,864,880 million books had been published as of 2010. That number is obviously a lot higher now. Think books are too expensive? The most expensive book ever purchased was sold for $30.8 million–Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex Leicester was purchased by Bill Gates according to Business Insider. Want to set a reading record? You’ll have to compete with Theodore Roosevelt—he read a book a day! Well maybe you can join the ranks of those who have read the three most popular books at the moment: The Holy Bible, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, and Harry Potter.
If you’re reading this, you are fortunate to have that ability. Illiteracy is still a huge problem throughout the world. One in five adults around the world can’t read or write, with the highest rates in South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Closer to home, we have illiteracy in every major city across the country. That’s why AARP has established the AARP Foundation Experience Corps, an intergenerational volunteer-based tutoring program that nationwide enlists adults 50 and older to help children who aren’t reading at grade level become great readers by the end of third grade.
Experience Corps has proven measurable benefits for students, as well as positive mental and physical health benefits for participating volunteers. The goal of this initiative is helping young students become better readers to ensure a lasting legacy of strong futures, supported schools, community partners and empowered volunteers. Locally, Parentis Health Foundation hosts Experience Corps Orange County with service locations at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Capistrano Valley, San Juan Capistrano, Aliso Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita. More information is available at AARP.or/experience-corps. Perhaps this is a gift you can think about giving in the New Year.
As this year draws to a close, my wish is that your holidays are special and 2019 overflows with plenty of peace, good health, love and laughter.
Originally published in the Orange County Register, December 17, 2018.