Long before video games existed, one of my most favorite childhood activities was playing with friends in the backyard. Through our imagination, we found a way to reenact western scenes, or play “good guys” catching dangerous villains. Those scenes we loved to create were often based on stories we’d read in western paperbacks or our favorite comic books.
As young kids, reading was our way to learn about exotic places and wild adventures. I read like crazy—mostly westerns, dime store adventure novels, and comic books. Reading was my way to travel to far off places, to experience these wild adventures, and to imagine life as a hero saving the day!
I’m not exaggerating when I say reading has changed my life. As a young boy, it was my way to experience new adventures. As a teen, I used reading to learn about new and interesting things; and as an adult, reading has become a lifelong passion of learning.
I love reading and I know others do, too. And I think it’s important that we work together to pass on this passion to kids, so they can enjoy it, too.
This summer, we here at the Ukiah Police Department (UPD) partnered with the Ukiah Unified School District and the Ukiah Library to help promote a wonderful program called, “Ukiah Reads.”
Ukiah Reads fosters a love of reading by celebrating great books. This summer program provides a reading list full of age-appropriate and truly great books so kids never run out of ideas about which book to read next. They can read and read and read some more during the summer when they are out of school.
UUSD Board members Anne Molgaard and Megan Van Sant helped start Ukiah Reads and they have enthusiastically supported it ever since, so they were really pleased when they learned about the plan that UUSD Superintendent Deb Kubin and I developed to reward the biggest readers at each school this year. Using some of UPD’s Drug and Gang Educational Asset Forfeiture Funding, we have set aside $3,000 to recognize our most active participants in the Ukiah Reads program.
As these young readers return to school this week, UUSD school principals will select readers from among them to receive gift certificates from the Mendocino Book Company: first place winners will receive $100 dollars; second place awardees will receive $50 dollars each; third place readers will receive $25 dollars, and 112 honorable mentions will each get $10 dollars.
Deb Kubin sure made me feel good when she said, “I love working with the UPD and I love how committed our police officers are to local kids and families, especially Chief Dewey. His passion for reading allowed us to continue this wonderful program and I am really grateful.”
Even if your child did not participate in Ukiah Reads this summer, he or she can still get involved: the reading list is still available and it’s a great way to find some amazing books.
You can find the Ukiah Reads reading list online at www.uusd.net/pages/Ukiah_Unified/ukiahreads , or at www.ukiahpolice.com/community-support . This booklist offers stories full of mystery, adventure, romance, friendship, heartbreak, great joy, and much more.
You can find each of the books on the list by visiting our Mendocino County Library in Ukiah, or the Mendocino Book Company at 102 S. School Street, or the Village Bookstore at 344 N. State Street. As the Ukiah Reads booklet says, “A magical world of reading awaits you!”
Reading is adventure waiting to happen. I love to read, and I love knowing that many kids within our community have also discovered a passion for reading. I want to congratulate everyone who participated in the program, especially those who won awards for their reading over this summer.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.