President Bush Says Reading is <em>Not</em> Fundamental

Chuck Sheketoff

Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF), founded in 1966, motivates children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life. RIF’s highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and U.S. territory, RIF provides 4.6 million children with 15 million new, free books and literacy resources each year.

The Bush Administration has proposed elimination of the RIF Inexpensive Book Distribution Program in its latest budget proposal.

Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO, of Reading Is Fundamental, issued this statement:

President Bush’s proposed budget calling for the elimination of Reading Is Fundamental’s (RIF) Inexpensive Book Distribution program would be devastating to the 4.6 million children and their families who receive free books and reading encouragement from RIF programs at nearly 20,000 locations throughout the U.S.

Unless Congress reinstates $25.5 million in funding for this program, RIF would not be able to distribute 16 million books annually to the nation’s youngest and most at-risk children. RIF programs in schools, childcare centers, migrant programs, military bases, and other locations serve children from low-income families, children with disabilities, foster and homeless children, and children without access to libraries. The Inexpensive Book Distribution program is authorized under the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (SEC.5451 Inexpensive Book Distribution Program for Reading Motivation) and is not funded through earmarks. It has been funded by Congress and six Administrations without interruption since 1975.

Since its founding in 1966, RIF’s programs have played an important role in improving literacy in this country. The U.S. Department of Education has shown that the number of books in a child’s home is a significant predictor of academic achievement. In addition, RIF programs also support academic achievement by involving hundreds of thousands of volunteers and other caring adults in encouraging children to read for fun. We urge all Americans to contact their Congressional representatives and ask them to reinstate funding for this important program.

That's right, even though his wife Laura is a former "teacher and librarian. . . who knows that a love of books . . . goes hand-in-hand with a love of learning," President Bush has proposed elimination of the aptly-named* Inexpensive Book Distribution Program run by Reading Is Fundamental.

* 16 million books for $25.5 million means less than $2 per book!


Ocpp_final_1 Chuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the
Oregon Center for Public Policy.   
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  • (Show?)

    Reading is part of what makes us human. This president has done more harm to America's children than any other in recent years. How much longer do we have to keep him? Thank you, Chuck, for your outstanding leadership on these issues. OCPP is a great resource for our state.

  • (Show?)

    Please Lord, show Brother George the error of his way. Use lightning if necessary. Seriously, what the fudgesickle is wrong with this guy? Hunnerds of billyuns fer weppuns but no munny fer chillun's buks? Wasn't he the Education President? Or have The Terrorists (tm) won? I'm really starting to think he's not The Greatest President In History after all...

  • Frank (unverified)


    Thanks for blogging about this topic. We hope Americans will send a letter to their Congressional leaders. Check out for more.


    Frank Walter RIF

  • Regis Reynolds (unverified)

    Look, W never received any reading help from RIF and he was able to become president. Therefore, isn't it obvious that RIF is not necessary for success in this world. Besides, his Mommy stamped out illiteracy, at least until Katrina.

  • Anon (unverified)

    What does Laura the librarian think of this?

    I know that Bush tried to earmark $24 million for Laura Bush's library program (which I suspect has as its purpose making sure that loyal Bushies control what books are available at the library, and then monitoring who reads what and reporting it to Homeland Security).

  • Molly (unverified)

    Hunnerds of billyuns fer weppuns but no munny fer chillun's buks?

    If RIF could figure out a way to funnel some of the money to one of Bush's donors, the $25.5M would magically appear.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Maybe if those books were The Bible...

  • (Show?)

    No Child Left Behind...except those without a book in their hands....

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