March 2 is National Read Across America Day. It's also called Dr. Seuss Day by some, and in some schools, teachers and kids dress up Cat-in-the-Hat style and enjoy fun activities around favorite books. But it's not about wearing a silly hat or re-reading Green Eggs and Ham. National Read Across America Day is about fostering a love of reading in people of all ages, especially children.
And that might be an effort that many seniors can get behind. Whether you love to read yourself and want everyone to experience the same joy or you see the benefits of reading for your grand kids and other children, consider getting involved.
It's easy to help promote a love of reading in kids. Some things you can do include:
Volunteering at a local school, library or church to read to children
Volunteering with programs that promote literacy and help people of all ages learn to read and enjoy reading more
Donate books to local literacy drives, schools or libraries
Read to your grandchildren when they visit you in your assisted living apartment
Read to your grandchildren over video conferencing solutions, such as FaceTime or Skype
Read the same books your grandchildren are reading so you can talk about them
But you don't have to read to or around kids to get in on National Read Across America Day. One great way to celebrate — or to enjoy books any time of year — is to read a picture book. They're not just for kids!
After living a full life and enjoying vibrant days in an assisted living community, what can you get out of picture books? After all, aren't they just simple stories for children with cartoon pictures?
Sometimes. But many times, they're much more.
Picture books can be works of art, with beautiful, fun images that spark your imagination or are just plain hilarious to look through. They often tell stories that are relevant for people of all ages; they just simplify those stories to what really matters. And well-crafted picture books, with their economy of language, are sometimes the best writing you can read.
All those benefits come in a book that's easy to digest in just a few minutes (or, at most, half an hour if you really enjoy the pictures). That makes picture books a great way to relax in your assisted living apartment.
Intrigued by the concept of picture books or want a great story to share with your grand kids? Check out some of the options below. You can buy them online or in local bookstores, and many are probably available via the Poudre River Public Library system.
Seniors that like horror stories might enjoy this fun, slightly dark read by Neil Gaiman. It's a longer picture book that's meant to be enjoyed by upper elementary and middle schoolers, so this isn't one you'd likely read to preschoolers. But the art by Dave McKean is fantastically creepy, and it does a great job of bringing Gaiman's story to life.
Yolen has an entire line of "How Do Dinosaurs..." books that seniors might enjoy for their metaphors about raising children. If you have children, these books bring you back to preschool and elementary years by hinting at some of the common behavior of kids those ages. That alone makes them a good read for yourself.
But the colorful dinosaur drawings and hilarious hints at bad behavior may have younger kids squealing with delight if you read this book to them. And the fact that Yolen always points out how dinosaurs (aka, children) should behave teaches a lovely lesson even if young listeners don't realize it.
This is a heartwarming adventure tale about a baby bat. Already, you can see why it's a favorite among children. But seniors might enjoy the adorable artwork and antics as Stellaluna the bat is separated from her mother and fostered for a time by birds.
Yolen's books aren't all as silly as the dinosaur series. Many read more like poetry for everyone than rhyme for children, and Owl Moon is one of those. It tells the story of a little girl who journeys out one night with her Pa to spot owls. The beautiful writing is backed by equally beautiful illustrations from John Schoenherr.
If you're looking for a hilarious and fun-to-read volume you can enjoy repeatedly with grandkids or others, The Napping House might be the right choice. It's the story of a bed, a granny, a child and many other whimsical things within the napping house. This one builds as you read, so it keeps children's attention, and the illustrations by Don Wood are fun to look at for people of all ages.
Yes, you can probably read much more than picture books. You might have an epic adventure book or historical romance sitting on your table at this moment. Or maybe you prefer to spend your reading time studying Scripture. Whatever you normally read, don't forget that picture books can be a fun diversion from time to time, and there's no better time to try one than now.