Huron County View column: Reading Month fosters lifelong love of reading

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The following column was printed by the Huron County View on March 10, 2016. The piece can also be read online at the Huron County View website.

By Sen. Phil Pavlov
25th Senate District

Sen. Phil Pavlov

Sen. Phil Pavlov

March is an exciting time of the year. It is when parents, children, teachers and students all across America focus on one of our most enriching pastimes. March is Reading Month is a time to celebrate reading and to work together to foster strong reading habits in our children.

Last year, and again last month, House Education Committee Chairwoman Rep. Amanda Price, R-Park Township, and I challenged our colleagues in the Senate and House to read to 1,000 students across the state in honor of March is Reading Month. In March of 2015 I visited local schools and read to more than 1,000 students throughout the Thumb area. It is a great joy to go into the classroom and read to kids. I look forward to visiting schools again over the next several weeks.

I’m not sure it’s possible to overstate the importance of developing good reading skills. About one in six children who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers. Encouraging students to read and teaching the basics of language is a vital step on the path to a brighter Michigan future.

Another way I like to help encourage reading is by running a summer reading contest. For the past several years, I’ve hosted the “Be a Senator for a Day” summer reading contest in coordination with local libraries. The contest is open to all first through fifth graders who have completed their local public library’s summer reading program in Huron, Macomb, Sanilac and St. Clair counties. The contest encourages students to keep their minds active and growing over the summer months.

Once students have completed the summer reading program, they fill out a contest entry form at their local public library branch. Then one winner from each branch is selected as a “Junior Senator.” The Junior Senators bring their parents to Lansing for a tour of the state Capitol, mock committee hearings and a luncheon hosted by me and their state representatives.

Reading opens up new worlds for children and adults. It teaches us to question and imagine in ways we have never done before. A lifelong love of reading is essential for a balanced and successful life, and fostering this love in students at a young age leads to greater achievements at all levels of their education.

I applaud teachers, parents and young readers throughout Michigan for their work this month and encourage all of us always to become more active readers.

Senator Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, is chairman of the Senate Education Committee. He serves the residents of the 25th Senate District, representing Huron, Sanilac and St. Clair counties; and Armada Township, Memphis, New Baltimore, Richmond and Richmond Township in Macomb County.