In an ongoing series in this column, we highlight one of Search Institute’s 40 Developmental

Assets that have a powerful positive impact on young people’s growth. These 40 assets comprise qualities, experiences, and relationships that help young people grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. Asset #25 is Reading for Pleasure.

I hope you were one of the lucky ones to have attended the recent “Battle of the Books” event at the Ridgefield Library. It truly was a great night! Five members of our community shared a book they thought should have been included in 1000 Books to Read before You Die. Unfortunately, for many teenagers today reading any book is a huge accomplishment, nonetheless 1,000! And reading for pleasure is even more of a struggle. According to Search Institute, only 22 percent of kids ages 11-18 read for pleasure three hours a week or more. But reading is critically important to development. Reading opens up new worlds, transports us to distant places, distant times, inspires us, teaches us, creates empathy and understanding of ourselves and others. Reading enriches our lives.

Ridgefield High School has a fabulous reading program that has grown exponentially over the last five years. Parents with high school aged kids could consider enrolling their students in these classes. Parents can also be good role models by reading themselves and making a variety of reading materials available to your kids - books, magazines and newspapers, even comic books count! Talk about what you are reading and ask questions about what they are reading. Perhaps even read the same book at the same time and discuss your views. The more reading young adults do the more positive they feel about themselves, so encourage reading and watch your kids thrive!

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