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National Reading Month: Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

One of the most precious heirlooms I have is a trio of old books. They are addressed to my grandmother, Sharon, from “Grandma, January 1951.” The copyright is 1944. The pages are browned around the edges, and smell strongly of an old bookshop, of wood and dust. The spine is brittle, demanding to be read with utmost care. I read them when I want to feel close to her.


The books are Huckleberry Finn, Dickens’ Christmas Stories, and Heidi. When I hold them, I am holding five generations of women in my hands. I am holding the past, as well as a glimpse into my grandmother’s pastimes. I am connected to my grandmother and her grandmother by the simple act of reading these pages.


March is National Reading Month, a thirty-one day celebration of reading and literacy for all ages. National Reading Month exists to raise awareness about the benefits of reading and to celebrate our schools, local libraries, and community centers that promote and foster literacy.


National Reading Month was chosen to take place in March as a tribute to Dr. Seuss, author and illustrator of over 60 children’s books, whose birthday is on March 2, 1904. In his book I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!, Seuss encourages children to foster the habit of reading: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”


There are endless benefits to reading. In the short term, reading has been proven to lower stress and improve sleep. It is also a wonderful form of entertainment and inspiration. In the long term, reading has been shown to improve memory, enhance cognitive development, increase vocabulary and analytic reasoning, expand the imagination, sharpen communication skills, foster empathy, build better writing skills, and lower the risk of cognitive decline and dementia later in life. Whatever your age or stage, the benefits of reading prove to be one of the best activities to nurture your creativity, mental health, and overall well-being. 


This year, as I hold my grandmother’s seventy-five year old books in my hands, I am reminded that books are more than a form of entertainment or a simple pastime. They are more than a way to learn something new or be inspired with new ideas. They are more than a paper weight or stylish décor. Books are the history that weave generations together. They are the stories we pass down and down and down. They are the mementos we cherish. Books are portals to other worlds—the past, the present, and the future. They are teachers, friends, and companions.


This March, as we enter the portals of various books throughout National Reading Month, and turn the pages one at a time, we join generations of writers and readers, all echoing Dr. Seuss’ well-known words, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”


Where will reading take you this month?


One last thing. If you’ve stopped by the library lately you’ve likely noticed the “closed” sign hanging on the door. We are currently undergoing some exciting staff area and circulation desk renovations and will be reopening on March 15. We will not be able to check books in or out and are unable to do renewals over the phone at this time.


If you’re itching for a sneak peak of library renovations, you can register for the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s virtual presentation by emailing The event will take place on March 13 from 6-7pm on the second floor of the library. More details are available on the library’s website. Happy reading!



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