By Jennifer Gerardo, CNN
(CNN) Actress Kate Beckinsale kicked off this National Reading Month by promoting the importance of reading through “The Nestlé Joy of Reading Program”. CNN’s J.D. Cargill sat down with Beckinsale at a recent event to discuss her love of reading and why she got involved in the project.
Beckinsale said that Nestlé’s commitment to providing books to underprivileged children is what attracted her to the program. She explained, “61% of low-income families have absolutely no books in their homes at all for children and 80% of preschools that serve underprivileged children have no age-appropriate books for those children.” Beckinsale thinks those statistics are disheartening and applauds Nestlé’s efforts to alleviate this problem.
Beckinsale says that reading is a very important part of her life and it’s one way she connects with her daughter. She’s gotten so much out of reading to her daughter and wanted to share that with other children.
When asked if reading can combat bullying Beckinsale thoughtfully replied, “Reading in general increases your sensitivity and ability to be empathetic, you know, identifying with characters. So in a very oblique way, if someone has a passion for reading I think they’re less likely to start picking on people for no reason.” She cited Harry Potter as an example of a literary character that was picked on incessantly but rose to the occasion. Beckinsale thinks promoting those types of characters is a benefit to young readers. The more children can expose themselves to different situations and storylines the better, Beckinsale says, adding, “There’s a lot of amazing children’s books that deal with divorce or disabilities or death in the family and I think it’s important for children to read about.”