By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District
Studies continue to demonstrate the connection between the development of good reading skills and one’s success as a student and a lifelong learner. Fostering these skills earlier in life, rather than later, is key to a strong educational foundation.
The benefits of parents talking, reading and singing to their infant children and continuing on for the first several years of their children’s lives are immense. Children learn more rapidly in their first six years than at any other stage in life as the brain’s neurons, synapses and connections are formed and strengthened by a caregiver interacting with a child.
This early emphasis on good verbal skills pays off enormously when a child enters school. Without this emphasis, the results can be disastrous. According to the National Adult Literacy Survey, children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out in later years.
In addition, 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.
This recognition of the importance of reading is the reason we observe March is Reading Month. Here in Michigan and across the nation, parents, children, teachers and students will celebrate reading this month and work together to develop strong reading habits in our children.
Here in Oakland County, for the second straight year I participated in the Oakland County READS! program. Oakland County READS! is an initiative of the Oakland County Superintendents Association in partnership with Oakland Schools, Oakland County government, the Oakland County School Boards Association, the Oakland Schools Education Foundation and Scholastic.
The event was held on Friday, March 10 at Oakland Schools in Waterford Township. Oakland County READS! is a way to kick off March is Reading Month here in the county.
Reading expands our imaginations, helps us to successfully navigate our world, and teaches us how to create a better life. Take time during March is Reading Month to help cultivate your own love of reading, and share the joys of reading with a child in your life as well.
This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.