Even though Jennie Garth‘s late father was passionate about his job teaching adult literacy, “I’m not sure I was read to much as a child,” she says. “I was the baby of the family, and maybe my parents didn’t have as much time for that.”
Still, thanks to his example, she grew up with a strong sense of the value of reading. It’s a legacy she wants to pass down not only to her three daughters, but to other children as well.
The former 90210 star is active in the Cheerios “Spoonfuls of Stories” campaign, which encourages kids to read by providing small books inside specially marked boxes of cereal from now through April. The company is also donating thousands of books to local libraries and providing financial support to First Book, an organization that gives new books to children in low-income areas.
“There are so many other things for kids to do now – TV, video games, movies – that books seem to be the last things kids pick up,” Jennie says. “But if we make books more a part of their daily lives, they’ll develop a love of reading.”
Her own daily reading rituals are a cherished part of her family’s life.
“We read for at least 30 minutes a day,” she says. “We’ll read for 15 minutes at bedtime, but they always want more!”
Youngest daughter Fiona, 5, is just learning to read. “She’s so excited,” Jennie reports. “My mom gave her a set of the Dick and Jane books, because she knew they would build her confidence.” Middle child Lola, 11, enjoys the Junie B. Jones series, and during group reading time, “they like it when I do Skippyjon Jones.” Her oldest, 14-year-old Luca, just finished Pride and Prejudice.
And what’s Jennie’s personal favorite? “Goodnight Moon!” she says without hesitation. “It’s such a symbol of our time together at night. It always makes me sleepy!”
Reading is an activity they have more time for, now that they’ve moved to a farm two hours outside L.A. Their adjustment to the country life is featured in Jennie’s new show, A Little Bit Country, which premieres April 20 on CMT. “We moved…to let the girls slow down and allow me to regroup,” she explains.
But no matter where you live, the actress encourages you to make books a treasure in your family. “Reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids.”
[Photo: via PRPhotos.com]
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