Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is a program, established by the late Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson in 1966. Lady Bird was the wife of the 34th President of the United States, the late Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ).
Her program allowed the government to give away books to children. Some of these children come from low-income families, are homeless, disabled, or foster children. She believed that they should not be illiterate.
Since 1966, her program has been widely successful. Through RIF, tons of books are distributed to children and teenagers all over the United States, and in US military bases all over the globe.
Currently, in the U.S., there has been an increase of children who come from bi-lingual families. Reading is Fundamental has made it possible for these children to read and speak English.
President George W. Bush has proposed a budget that will eliminate the RIF program, thus eliminating young people’s right to literacy, eliminating their right to an education, and eventually eliminating their chance of ever getting a job.
Clearly, the only thing that should be eliminated is his absurd suggestion.
Unless Congress is willing to put back $26 million dollars in funding for this program, RIF will not be able to distribute 16 million books to children who need them the most.
In conclusion, during the early to mid 1980’s, former first lady Nancy Regan developed the “Just Say No” campaign. She encouraged the American youth not to use illegal drugs.
Perhaps, it’s time to revive this campaign with a change in target. The president wants to eliminate a child’s right to free literacy? “Just Say No!”