Read Across America helps build literacy

Published 3:00 am Thursday, March 2, 2017

One book, two books … how about a new book?

Today’s is Read Across America Day, and as school children across Pike County don red and white striped stovepipe hats and “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” costumes, we’ll celebrate the joys of reading.

The celebration, started in 1998 by the National Education Association, coincides with the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. By keying on his beloved characters – including the Cat in the Hat – the NEA’s effort has grown to a week-long celebration of costumes, fun and – most importantly – community awareness about the importance of reading in our everyday lives.

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According to the National Center for Education Statistics, since 1993 only 53 to 58 percent of children ages three to five enjoy the gift of sharing a book with an adult on a daily basis.

That’s a disturbing fact.

Because the NCES also tells us that among those young children, those who were read to frequently are more likely to be able to count to 20 or higher (60 percent vs. 44 percent); write their own names (54 percent vs. 40 percent); and read or pretend to read (77 percent vs. 57 percent.)

We know that children who read frequently develop stronger reading skills, and those skills are built upon to develop critical thinking and learning skills that are  necessary throughout life.

According to Reading is Fundamental, America’s literacy crisis has reached “epidemic proportions”: a full 34 percent of children entering kindergarten lack the basic language skills needed to learn how to read and 65 percent of fourth graders read at or below the basic level.

We can start to change those statistics in the simplest way possible: reading to our children, and our community’s children.

Find a book; share it with a child or a group of children. And introduce them to the lifelong joy of reading.

It all starts with a red-and-white striped hat on an impish cat and a good book.