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The summer reading program has begun at the Pea Ridge Community Library and it has using an app to help parents record their children's success.

Reading is essential and during the days of summer, when children are not rushing to school every day, there's time to settle in with a good book. Many people do not read as much as they once did. With the advent of television and the many devices which can play music, videos and other programs, both youngsters and adults alike are prone to find their entertainment or escape in technology instead of a book.

But, the ability to read is an essential skill that will benefit the reader for the rest of his or her life.

The author Samuel Clemens, known as Mark Twain, was reported to have said: "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them."

A high school senior once told me he had not read a book since sixth grade. That was, unbeknownst to him, not a commendation.

Author Henry Clay Trumbull (grandfather of author Elisabeth Elliot) wrote: "A love of reading is an acquired taste, not an instinctive preference. The habit of reading is formed in childhood; and a child's taste in reading is formed in the right direction or in the wrong one while he is under the influence of his parents; and they are directly responsible for the shaping and cultivating of that taste."

Parents must read to their children from the earliest days, but if they have not formed the habit of reading, it's not too late and, instead of spending time in regret, they should start anew.

This summer, especially with the social distancing and staying at home imposed by the COVID-19 restrictions, it is a good time to either begin or improve your reading habits. This is as true of adults and parents as of children.

"Practice what you preach" is an apt adage. We must do what we want our children to do. Set the example.

"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark," wrote author Victor Hugo.

Once one learns to decode words and then understand the story, one can find escape in a well-written story and learn about any subject one desires. The reader can travel around the world from an armchair while reading.

As Frederick Douglass said: "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free."

Pick up a good book from the local library, find a cozy spot (maybe even on a quilt on the lawn), and let your imagination soar on the wings of the words of a good author.

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Editor's note: Annette Beard is the managing editor of The Times of Northeast Benton County, chosen the best small weekly newspaper in Arkansas for five years. She is the mother of nine grown children and 12 grandchildren. The opinions expressed are those of the author. She can be reached at [email protected]

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