MARCH 12, 1958
NEW YORK—I want to bring to your attention something with which New York State is faced, but which is not peculiar to New York alone.
We have introduced into our state legislature certain bills which will alleviate some of the worst evils affecting the migrant workers who garner our crops during the summer months. These are workers who travel from North to South and from South to North, and they travel as families.
At present, these migratory workers have little protection. They have no union to represent their interests and they never stay long enough in one place to become voters, so the rest of us must be responsible for the conditions under which they work and live.
Therefore, these bills would expand the summer school programs for school-age children; provide more day care centers for the preschool children; make compulsory the keeping of payroll records by growers and crew leaders, with statement of earnings and deductions to the workers; require licensing of camp commissary facilities; and several other important provisions.
It is urgent that we in New York State support these bills, and it is equally important that citizens everywhere throughout the country find out about similar bills that may be before their state legislatures, and decide whether or not they should support them.
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National Library Week, co-sponsored by the National Book Committee and the American Library Association for the very worthwhile purpose of creating "A better-read, better-informed America," runs from March 16-22 this year.
There are thousands of people throughout our nation who are waking up to the fact that you cannot be a good citizen in a democracy unless you are well informed, and you cannot be well informed unless you have read steadily during your life. One needs to read background books of history, biography and literature of many kinds, and then to read more widely in one's own particular fields of interest.
All the TV and radio programs in the world will not do for you what the written word—in newspapers, magazines and books—can do. And because it is essential that our young people realize this, Library Week is a time when we should all try to make everyone understand how richly rewarding reading is, not only to their citizenship but also to their enjoyment of life.
If you have not learned to read for pleasure you have cheated yourself of one of the best tools any individual can have, both for education and for pure joy. I knew of nothing more delightful than a stormy day without, a fire and a book within. The sooner our youngsters come to enjoy this, the better for our country as a whole.