Wednesday, May 22, 2013

May is Get Caught Reading Month!

by Katie Turnbloom

Image from
Founded in 1999 by former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, Get Caught Reading is a nationwide campaign with the objective to “remind people of all ages how much fun it is to read… and to share that pleasure with the young children in their lives” ( While the core focus of this campaign is to emphasize the joys of reading, particularly for pleasure, their website also discusses how encouraging children to start reading at an early age helps their cognitive development, earn higher test scores, and decreases the likelihood of their dropping out of school later in life. Ultimately, too, and at risk of stating the completely obvious, encouraging and teaching children to read breaks the cycle of adult illiteracy and thus providing greater educational and occupational opportunities. The campaign includes a series of posters where celebrities that kids look up to (both human and cartoon) are "caught" reading - see them all here.

I remember when I was young pretty much the only thing I was caught doing was reading. I loved to read and would devour anything I could get my hands on (although Roald Dahl was, and honestly still is, my absolute favorite). I can even remember going to the book store when I was twelve or thirteen and purchasing Dante Alighieri’s The Inferno – which, as my parents probably expected but didn’t have the heart to tell me, was far too advanced for me at the time; even though it was too much for my preteen self, I was encouraged to return to the text years later to further explore and re-challenge myself.

Matilda Wormwood of
Roald Dahl's classic, Matilda
I consider myself so lucky to have been able to develop my affinity for literature through my bibliophilic family; no matter what was going on we were all reading at least one book. My sister and I were encouraged to read often, much, and without censorship. A memory I remember most vividly is one shared by both my sister and I where night after night our heads rested on the soft, cotton pillows laid in our father’s lap as he read us The Hobbit at bedtime. This is just one of many occasions that I took for granted as a child and one that helped develop strong relationships between myself, literature, and my family. These relationships very much helped in forming my identity, not only in regards to my personal interests but also in my academic and career goals (heck, I’m a masters candidate working towards a degree in children’s literature, if that says anything).

So it saddens me to read that, according to the CIA Yearbook, the United States, our 315 million–plus person country, has a 99% literacy rate, leaving millions of people unable to read, or to do so with extreme difficulty. Not only are these individuals unable to experience literature for its boundary-crossing, world-creating magic, they are also unable to experience the relationships often formed through that literature.

That is why this month, to honor the memories when we at Godine were (and are!) caught reading, we will donate a picture book for every comment this blog post receives to the Waltham Family School of Waltham, MA. This school is committed to teaching illiterate adults the English language and is multi-purposed, helping adults not only read themselves, but to also form a relationship with their children through literature and pass on their enthusiasm for literature and learning to future generations.

So tell us something about your literary selves! What were your favorite books growing up? Your favorite David R. Godine, Publisher books? A book that changed your life? A memory when you were caught reading?  

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