I grew up in a house of readers. My mother read mysteries; my father popular history with an emphasis on Civil War biographies. My sister preferred non-fiction as well, especially social histories and examinations of culture; my brother is a more eclectic reader who bounces back and forth and often recommends books to me. I read everything and have turned my love of reading into a career. Who knew?
Unlike a lot of people I know, I am a big proponent of phonics because that's how I was taught to read. I didn't know how to read when I entered school but I could recognize some words because one or the other of my parents read to me every night. (And more often than not it was my father, who loved, loved, loved words. He knew that kids like the sound of silly words and he was a lawyer, so he taught us all phrases like posse comitatus and delighted in hearing us parrot them back. He also taught us the meaning. How many eight year olds can define the term? Which may explain why my brother became a lawyer, so he'd have a chance to use all those ornate Latin phrases.)
I was thinking about reading today as I read about the Teacher's Strike in Chicago.
Education begins with reading and reading needs to begin in childhood. There are some great organizations out there to help encourage childhood reading and all of them are hurting for money in these difficult (understatement of the year) economic times. If you have a little spare change, consider donating it to Reading is Fundamental or Kids Need to Read.
For me, supporting causes like that is enlightened self-interest. Kids who read turn into people who buy books. I think of it as job security.