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I have a dream.

That kids all over the world, with wondering eyes and eager grins, will listen to stories being read aloud. Some will have Dad to read them a bedtime story. Some will be at Momma's knee, listening while she tries to read and sew by candlelight. Others will be grouped around their teacher, gazing at a picture book while they imagine themselves flying with dragons, and standing up to bullies.

Because these kids are read to, they will have better language skills, have more knowledge and understanding of the world, and they will likely be more successful at school. Their own reading skills will be greater than their peers who weren't read to. They will have the opportunity to read a bus timetable, follow directions for making a cake, or discover the magic of Fibonacci numbers. They will learn tolerance by walking a mile in someone else's shoes.

And they will have their own dreams.

Kids need dreams. Without dreams, there would have been no man on the moon, no Mona Lisa, no Where the Wild Things Are. Dreams give kids something to aim for. Dreams give kids something to hold onto.

For some children dreams are an escape from a difficult reality. This was brought home to me recently when I reviewed Are You My Mother. In an email, a lovely lady explained how important the book was to her. She'd been abused as a child and yet that book gave her a tremendous amount of hope. "Granted the book always ended the same, (but) every time that baby bird approached something, there was always that chance..." Now a mother herself, she has never forgotten Eastman's book, or the chance it gave her to dream.

Books encourage dreams. Reading about what others have achieved can inspire kids to stretch toward their own goals. Entering the adventures of a hero through the pages of a book enables dreams of ourselves as heroes. And oh, our world needs heroes!

If you share my dream, leave a comment and let other readers know. Last week, on the Book Chook blog, I had many comments from people who said they were off to take action. We'd love to read what you're doing! Let's unite our dreams for greater literacy, and help kids dream with the aid of books.

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