TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Throughout history, great leaders have consistently been great readers who used books to derive, broaden and deepen their knowledge.
Abraham Lincoln, considered one of our country’s greatest presidents, had barely one year of formal education. The image of Lincoln reading into the night by candlelight is imprinted on our collective memory. An avid reader, he searched endlessly for new books that were in scarce supply in the frontier villages where he grew up.
He read and reread the King James Bible, “Aesop’s Fables,” “Pilgrim’s Process,” “Robinson Crusoe” and Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. Access to books for all — rich and poor — as a tool to enhance knowledge, expand thinking, develop values and achieve success, is an underpinning of a democratic society and the motivation behind Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy resulting in hundreds of libraries being built across America in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Within our own community, as you will see illustrated in a series of articles, Tahoe Truckee leaders reinforce the value of reading and the importance of books in their own lives and careers, bearing out the adage, “Readers Are Leaders.”
The love of reading is a precious gift that is most often developed in the early years of a child’s life. The ability to read well by the end of third grade is the most important early marker of a child’s ability to succeed in school.
Tahoe Truckee Unified School District is launching “Readers Are Leaders,” an early literacy awareness campaign, supported by First Five Nevada County and a strategy of Tahoe Truckee Reads, a comprehensive community initiative seeking to elevate reading proficiency levels for all students in TTUSD by the end of third grade. This initiative provides parents and educators with early literacy tools and inspiration to nurture children in becoming proficient and eager readers.
Enjoy getting to know community leaders through their unique and personal connections with reading.
The series kicks off with a lively interview with Dr. Rob Leri, superintendent and chief learning officer of TTUSD. The photographs of our leaders with their favorite storybooks are a generous gift to our campaign from local photographer Tom Lippert, whose work has been published internationally in magazines and books, including in a series of children’s books.
INTERVIEW WITH DR. ROB LERI
Q: Is reading important in your life/career?
A: Reading is essential to both my career and personal life. I am an avid reader of professional materials including journals and books. This is one of the ways I stay current on relevant trends and issues affecting education. Personally, I came from a family of readers and our conversations often centered on the books we had read together or separately — from classics to the New York Times’ best seller of the time. One of the primary ways I relax is to read; and I read a variety of materials for pleasure from books on history to best sellers and Westerns.
Q: What is your favorite children’s book — past or present?
A: Ugh … some of the books I read as a child would not be considered children’s books. Reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” in third grade may not be age appropriate for most! I also discovered Steinbeck and Hemingway very early. The adventures and hardships on so many levels left a lasting impression. I remember “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Put Me in the Zoo.” I also read a lot of adventure tales including the Hardy Boy series.
Q: If you were snowed in at a backcountry hut, what reading material would you want to have with you?
A: A series of good Westerns.
Q: Why do you think readers are leaders?
A: Readers tend to know about current issues around the world. Readers seek out information and are often those most in touch.
Q: Where is your favorite place to read and when is your favorite time to read?
A: Outside in the summer or warm weather. In cold weather in front of the fire with a blanket. I probably read more later in the evening and early on weekends, days off, and vacations.
Q: Who is your favorite character in a book and why?
A: Atticus Finch … for too many reasons to list (from “To Kill a Mockinbird”). He was a man who understood justice, fairness, and equality. One of the earliest and greatest influences on my life was that book … even if I read it way too early after seeing the movie on the late show.
Submitted by Ruth Jackson Hall, TTUSD Early Learning Coordinator.