Children love to read, especially when they read actual books 

Kindles are everywhere, the new iPad is out, e-books surge in sales. The good news is that all this gadgetry is not preventing children from reading books, the kind that come with real pages.

Reading helps develop young minds, sparks the imagination, and teaches grammar and vocabulary.

A new report from the Association of American Publishers, the national trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry, reveals a mystery about children’s books. Sales for all of calendar 2010 were down from 2009, but children’s books saw higher sales in December 2010 than the prior year. More people than ever are giving children books as gifts in the holiday season.

Paperbacks read by children and young adults saw a healthy increase, up 4.5 percent, to $49 million in December sales. Hardbacks, a more expensive buy for consumers recovering from a recession, were up by two tenths of a percent, to $60 million.

J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series showed that when children were given books that they enjoyed, with a story, suspense and fascinating characters, both good and evil, they couldn’t put the volumes down.

Harry Potter is now one of the most popular characters of all time — even though Rowling had to approach multiple publishers before one would agree to publish the book.

This month, “The Secret of Rover,” another adventure book, hits bookstores’ shelves, written by Rachel Wildavsky, a local Washington, D.C., writer and a friend of mine. I called the author to ask what had prompted her to write a children’s book.

Rachel, a mother of three teens, told me, “I wrote the book because I found that children were reading bad books and were satisfied with them. They were happy with so little. I wanted to provide them with something better.”

Many of us have fond memories of the books we read in our youth. They entertained us, and inspired us to be better people. Young people have more toys than ever, but the pleasure of reading remains.

Examiner columnist Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

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