Reading should be important to students every day

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 28, 2006

There’s only one event that will get teachers, principals, and school employees to dye their hair blue, cook up a breakfast of green eggs and ham, or be duct-taped to a wall if it boosts their students’ enthusiasm to read. That event is Read Across America Day.

Read Across America is celebrated on March 2, which is also Dr. Seuss’ birthday. RAA is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading. The program also provides schools, parents, caregivers, and children the resources and activities they need to encourage reading.This year, the RAA plans to bring the gift of reading to children who have been affected by recent hurricanes.

The program, started by the National Education Association in 1998, is a great way to get kids excited about reading. The reasoning is simple. If we hold pep rallies to get kids excited about football; why don’t we do something to get kids excited about reading?

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Since its inception, the event has grown by leaps and bounds. This year marks the ninth annual RAA event and this year’s celebration is expected to be larger than ever. Nearly 45 million children and adults are expected to join the largest celebration of reading in our nation’s history. Across the country, everyone from parents to politicians, and athletes to actors will be doing their part to bring reading excitement to children of all ages.

But there are other ways that we can ensure that our children have a solid reading foundation.Whether you are a parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle, cousin or sibling, or just a friend, I encourage you to spend a few minutes each day reading to a child.

It is no secret that motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Plus, successful readers make successful students. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.

However, if time constraints prohibit you from reading to a child every day, there are other ways to get kids excited about reading. The Alabama School Journal provides several recommendations:

Set a good example as a reader yourself. Almost everyone is a role model to some child, and one of the biggest positive influences you can have on that child is by showing them that adults read too. Whether it is a book, magazine, or even the morning paper, let kids see you reading whenever possible.

Get a subscription in his or her name to an age-appropriate magazine for your child. When relatives and others ask for gift ideas, suggest magazine subscriptions, books, or a gift certificate to a bookstore. Also, try to keep lots of reading materials around the house, and visit the library as often as possible.

Finally, don’t worry if “Spider-Man” has captivated your child rather than Charlotte’s Web. The important thing is that he is reading. And if encouraged, he will likely to move on to more sophisticated titles with age.

While schools usually celebrate Read Across America Day on March 2, reading does not end when the day does. The NEA encourages the celebration of reading whenever possible. By reading to children and increasing interest in books and reading, we can all do our part to keep reading on the calendar 365 days a year.