March is Reading Month

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Literacy is one of the most fundamental skills necessary for a successful future. Reading plays a critical role in a child’s cognitive growth and development. Data has shown that learning to read at a young age can increase a student’s ability to remember facts, comprehend information and be successful in both school and a career.

Now that the month of March has finally arrived, the annual March is Reading Month celebrations have formally begun in northern Michigan. While reading and language skills are important year-round, every March, teachers, students, parents and community leaders across the U.S. place extra focus on creating strong reading habits in our children.

Studies have shown that students who cannot read proficiently by the end of third grade often struggle to graduate from high school on time and have decreased opportunities for success as adults.

It is important to add that teaching our children how to read is only part of the equation — encouraging students to read on their own, and to enjoy doing it, is also critically important. When students read only because a teacher or assignment requires it, they naturally are less likely to enjoy it. We need to reach our kids at a young age and teach them how important reading is and just how much they can learn by getting into a good book.

I encourage parents to get involved and take part in the March is Reading Month activities at their children’s schools as well. Parents can check with their local schools and libraries about activities and programs or ask about ways they can take part in reading activities along with their kids. By teaching your child to read proficiently on their own, you are setting them up for a successful future.

Since being elected to state office, I have made it a point to travel to communities both above and below the bridge to read to students during March is Reading Month. I look forward to visiting young students every year. Their eager faces bring me a great deal of joy and remind me just how important this type of interaction with young children can be.

I look forward to visiting students throughout northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula again this year. I hope parents and teachers across my district will join me in celebrating March is Reading Month.

If you are unable to participate in this March’s activities at your child’s school, just remember that good books can be found anytime and anywhere. So stop at the local library or book store and take some time to share a good story with your family. The Michigan Department of Education also has resources available, such as suggested reading material for children, at its website, Michigan.gov/MDE.

Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, represents the 37th state Senate District, which includes Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Luce and Mackinac counties.