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Books That (Kind of) Read Themselves

Michelle Obama and Arne Duncan read Dr. Seuss to students.
For many of us, the ability to read is no longer the source of wonder. It's what we read that makes the synapses in our brains fire.

While it's no secret that people young and old struggle with this skill and are therefore robbed of the inspiration, comfort, and excitement reading can bring, there's another group of people for whom the physical act of reading is part of the challenge.

For 80 years, the blind and physically handicapped have been able to rely on talking books, a free service from the Library of Congress that will be commemorated Thursday in Washington D.C. (Perhaps its fitting that the anniversary of talking books comes a day after what would have been the 107th birthday of Dr. Seuss, who brought words to life in his own way.)

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped has a collection of more than 400,000 books and provides free subscriptions to more than 40 magazines in audio format, plus 30 magazines in braille.

As Dr. Seuss found when he wrote "If I Ran the Zoo," and as I just learned from Time's Zoe Fox, when you need something, like the ability to read when you can't see the words, you can find a way. In a feature about lessons we can learn from this wildly imaginative author, Ms. Fox writes that when Dr. Seuss needed just the right new word, he simply created one: Nerd.

Do you have any words do you have for Congress, which is considering cuts to a number of literacy programs? (Please, keep it civil.)

Photo: First lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan read the Dr. Seuss classic "Green Eggs and Ham" during the National Education Association's 14th annual Read Across America Day on March 2 at the Library of Congress. (Evan Vucci/AP)

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