Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Monday, March 07, 2011

A riff on the importance of RIF

Last week,a bill was passed in Congress and signed by the President that,amongst other things,took away federal funding for Reading Is Fundamental,also known as RIF.

Normally I don't get political on this blog but being that this is an important issue that many pop culture followers as well as book lovers would be concerned about,an exception to my personal rule is warranted here.

RIF has been active since 1966,providing books and literacy services to children in need and while it is a non-profit program,the bulk of it's budget comes from grants along with donations both of time and money from outside sources. Reasons for denying them their annual 25 million grant include such statements as "This is only a temporary bill,so the government won't have to shut down,okay?" and "We have to streamline all of these programs in order to control spending".

Well,nowadays we all know just how fast temporary can become permanent and if you want to consolidate educational programs,why eliminate one of the most efficient ones out there? Not to mention that I hardly think that the key to keeping the government from shutting down is in taking away books from poor kids. That's as financially responsible as let them eat cake.

Taking away the funds from RIF might seem to some to be a necessary evil but in my opinion,that kind of choice is the type that only a Dickensian villain would be in full support of:

Some would say that it's more important to give that money towards our libraries,which is a good idea except that a lot of library funding comes from the states and those budgets are also being dramatically reduced.

With such vital resources under siege from spending cuts,RIF would certainly be a great help in providing local libraries with volunteer programs for kids and parents alike,particularly since library usage has gone up over the past few years due to our current row of hard times that we're hoeing.

When I was a kid,I was fortunate enough to have parents that encouraged me to read and took time out to take me to the library,plus provide books for me whenever they had the chance. Watching those public service ads for RIF on TV during my childhood only further compounded the notion that I was truly blessed to be a reader:

It's even more of a struggle today to get kids interested in books,with all of the technological distractions swirling up around them. Yes,children's literature is available via e-readers but many families can't afford such a luxury even in good economic times. With all of the changes and challenges facing the current as well as the next generation,reading skills are vital to the future of our nation:

"Well,the bill is already signed,Lady T. What can we do about it now?" We can still make our voices heard on this subject by going to the RIF website and sending letters of protest to our elected officials.

The site has a "find your representative" application for adults to write either e-mail or printed letters to their state and federal reps(as well as the President)and there's a writing campaign under way for children to partake in,too. Freedom of speech is a great power but also a great responsibility that needs to be called upon in troubled times such as these.

Hopefully,things will get better as we go along and perhaps there will come a time when cutting off books to those who badly need them sound like something out of a fairytale. Until then,readers of all ages have to take up the good fight in our own way and do our best to make books and reading the most beautiful gift there is to give:

No comments: