It will come as no surprise that this newspaper and its staff support reading as the password to a life beyond reach.

The mysteries of the universe are open to all who can read. The gift of teaching a youngster to read is akin to the gift of healing. Watching as a young reader solves the code that opens the world of literature and current events is like watching a flower open its petals to the sun.

One of the key measurements of poverty is the literacy rate. Impoverished nations and states cannot read. The ability of a nation to read is linked directly to the nation's ability to govern its affairs.

A state with poor literacy rates will find itself at the bottom of the list in economic factors as well.

It's not so much that reading is more important than other subjects as it is obvious that reading is a building block to those other important areas of life.

Newspapers, obviously, stake their futures on a reading public. So did the founding fathers of this country. They knew their experiment in self determination would fail unless the general population could be informed.

They created the First Amendment in direct response to that understanding, and they made public education a fundamental part of life in the new nation.

Today more than ever, reading is key to growing and thriving in America. Written information is available at levels unthinkable just a few years ago. Even phones offer messages in text.

More than ever the ability to read and comprehend is a basic foundation to life in America, and having readers is vital to democracy and our way of life.

That's why newspapers such as the East Oregonian organize Newspapers in Education, a program that provides newspapers as living textbooks for budget-strapped classrooms throughout the region.

There are lessons in mathematics, history, government and science in nearly ever edition of a daily newspaper.

That's why newspaper people are so quick to volunteer for SMART and other programs that need help teaching youngsters to read.

All these programs have needs that exceed the resources.

There are youngsters around us brimming with the desire to unlock the secrets of the alphabet. They just need us adults to provide them with a key.

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