National Young Readers Week

Picture of children sitting on a bench reading
Picture of children sitting on a bench reading | Photo credit: Shutterstock

Cultivating a love of reading in the hearts of your kids

November 13-17, 2023, is National Young Readers Week. It was started to encourage kids to read and to introduce them to the wonderful world of books.

Not only do kids gain knowledge through reading, it can also be a great source of adventure and fun.

How many times have you yourself found your imagination sparked and ignited with an engrossing story?

We want our kids to experience that, too. And not only that. Many lessons can be found in a book’s pages.

Today we’re going to discuss the many benefits of reading, the effects of too much screen time, and offer suggestions for books your kids will love.

But first, let’s dive into the history behind this awesome week celebrated each year in November.

The history of National Young Readers Week

In 1985, Arthur Gunther, the president of Pizza Hut created the famous BOOK IT! program as a means for his business to be more involved in education.

Motivated by President Ronald Reagan, Gunther and educators from Kansas developed the reading program and awarded kids with free Personal Pan Pizzas for reading books.

In 1989, Pizza Hut and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress co-founded National Young Readers Week when the BOOK IT! program was extended to become a week-long event in schools.

The initiative has been a huge success and since its beginning, there have been over 14 million children who have participated in the program.

Today, the program is still going strong and each year inspires students nationwide from PreK-6 grades to set and meet reading goals.

You can learn more about this amazing program at

Kids' screen time

So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install,
A lovely bookshelf on the wall
—from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
This generation of kids is spending more time on phones, tablets, computers, video games, and television than any previous generation to date.

The CDC has reported that 8-10 year olds spend six hours on screens; 11-14 year olds, nine; and 15-18 year olds spend seven-and-a-half hours on screens.

These are recreational hours, not time spent studying. The health effects of too much screen time include:

  • physical and mental health issues
  • obesity
  • disrupted sleep
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • behavioral problems

It’s easy to see the problems that spending an excessive amount of time on computers, phones, tablets, and TVs cause. An alternative activity would be to crack open a book and see what adventures await inside.

Six, but not all, benefits of reading

…the brain is like a muscle, and if you don't exercise it by reading and doing creative stuff, it’ll get weak and mushy.
— Jeff Kinney
As we celebrate National Young Readers Week this month, it’s good to know the benefits of reading and why we want to encourage our kids to do it.

  1. Reading helps with mental development by stimulating and keeping the mind active. Kids develop curiosity and a broader understanding of the world we live in through reading. Reading grows their vocabulary, encourages them to write, and lays the foundation for their academic success.
  2. A child’s social skills are improved when they read. Reading stimulates the part of the brain that interprets language, which in turn helps them communicate, socialize, and express themselves better.
  3. Reading increases a child’s imagination and creativity. Exposure to different places, times, people, and events through books boosts a child’s imagination and sparks creativity.
  4. Reading develops critical thinking skills and comprehension in children. Reading helps a child sort out and understand things around them, and it helps them with the necessary thinking skills they need to make decisions and process information.
  5. Reading increases concentration. Today, the average person’s attention span is less than a goldfish’s, and the constant bombardment of media isn’t helping. Reading helps a child focus and fosters concentration.
  6. Knowing how to read increases a child’s chances of staying in school, and reading to your child early on puts them almost one year ahead when they enter school. Children who don’t learn to read are 3-4 times more likely to drop out of school.
Fun fact: Did you know kids learn 4,000-12,000 words a year just by reading?
Reading can change the course of your life!
Maybe you’ve heard the story of Dr. Ben Carson, presidential candidate in 2016 and the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2017-2021.

When he was in grade school and making poor grades, his mom noticed that successful people read more than they watched tv. She began limiting Ben’s TV time and had him and his brother read two library books a week and write book reports.

Ben soon learned to enjoy reading which fueled his imagination. He went from being at the bottom of his class to eventually becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon who successfully separated conjoined twins in a twenty-two hour operation in 1987.

His mother’s influence motivated him, and reading played a big role in his success. You can read more about his story in the book, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.

Building a habit for life

Develop the habit of visiting the library early in your child’s life. You can begin reading to your child as early as infancy. Not only will your baby learn as you read to him, it’ll also provide a time for bonding with you.

A quick Google search will turn up lists for wholesome books for children and teens. In honor of National Young Readers Week, we’ve listed a few here for you.

Ages 4-8
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little Britches by Ralph Moody

Ages 8-10
The Promises of God Storybook Bible: The Story of God’s Unstoppable Love by Jennifer Lyell
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis

Ages 11-14
NIV Adventure Bible for boys
Life Application Study Bible for girls
The Boxcar Children Series by Barbara Lawrence
Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew Series by Carrie Kingsley

Ages 15-18
NIV Teen Study Bible
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
At No More Dirty, we understand the value of education in the success of our kids and offer opportunities tailored toward your child.

Introducing CampSMART

We began CampSMART to give youth the opportunity to explore creative writing; communication; performing arts; business leadership; S.T.E.A.M (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math), rockets; robotics; research; and film, music, and media production.

These camps are held during summer and school breaks.

We’d love to have your child participate! For more information, visit us online at or send us an email to