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Margot Pritzker: Read all about it

Margot Pritzker's Here's an Idea

Margot Pritzker's Here's an Idea

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Updated: July 14, 2012 6:04AM

Remember the Katie Couric interview when Couric asked former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin which newspapers and magazines she reads to stay informed about current affairs? “All of them,” she famously answered. “Specifically?” Couric asked. “Most of them,” she answered. “Could you name one?” Blank. Couric was simply asking for Palin’s source for current events and she got a blank! How about education, governor? Blank! Fashion? Blank! Sports? Blank! “Name one ‘bleeping’ paper!” McCain’s campaign director angrily yells in the HBO movie, “Game Change.”

You don’t have to be caught in this blank space, and you certainly don’t need to let your kids be caught there.

Read. Let your children see you read. Read to your kids, and let them read to you. Talk about what you read.

Here’s an idea: Pick an article from this paper — any article, any subject — and read it to your kids. Start a daily competition in the family where each member picks an article to read and tells the rest of the family about it. Vote on the best one over dinner or before bed.

Tanika Island, an extraordinary school leader at the University of Chicago Charter School, believes we could solve the nation’s literacy problem if every child was read to for 20 minutes a night. By someone. Anyone. A parent. A sibling. A mentor. Anyone. Tanika’s right.

Research and common sense tell us that children who read, and children who talk about what they read, do better in every subject in school. They are better writers, more articulate, more curious and have higher self-esteem.  And children who succeed in school live longer, earn more, vote and exercise more, go to prison less and have children who succeed in school. As Shayne Evans — one of Chicago’s greatest school leaders —  puts it, “We can’t waste the summer.  Our children should read more, not less, when school is out. And we should incent, inspire and insist that it happens.”

So don’t wait. If you are reading this now, pick your article next and talk about it. Tonight.

Margot Pritzker donated her $1,000 fee for writing this column to the University of Chicago Charter Schools, where she serves as chair of the governing board. Visit

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