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Reading a life skill you just can’t do without

If you’re able to read, and, hopefully, comprehend, this editorial, then you’ve got a skill that some people may never learn.

Possessing the ability to read is something many of us likely take for granted. It’s a skill we learned years ago as children back in school, when the scrapes on our knees we got from recess meant more than the lessons we were taught on the chalkboard.

But there’s a lifelong value in learning to read, particularly at a young age, that should not be overlooked, even in this day and age when some youngsters can’t write cursive or tell what time it is by looking at the face of an analog clock.

Reading can take you on an adventure with swashbuckling pirates around the world, or with aliens to other planets. It can help you learn new languages, teach you all you need to know about insects, help you discover new revelations about yourself or how to better understand love and building relationships with others. It can even help you read newspaper articles every day so that you can be an informed and engaged member of our community, like you, dear reader.

Reading is the key needed to unlock so much information in our world, and it’s an exceptional way to learn and enjoy all sorts of different topics simply with the power of one’s brain and imagination.

And it’s true that learning to read at an early age is becoming more of a focus in Michigan.

In 2017, only 35% of fourth-grade Michigan students performed at or above proficient levels on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test, which is administered every two years.

That’s an increase of 1% from the 2015 figure, according to the Michigan Department of Education’s 2017-18 Annual Review. Those numbers are not good enough.

The Legislature in 2016 passed Michigan’s “Read by Grade Three” law requiring schools to identify students struggling with reading and writing and to provide them with extra instruction. Starting with the 2019-20 school year this fall, third-graders who are more than one grade level behind in those skills may be required to repeat third grade under the law, according to the MDE review.

That’s why it’s important we support summer reading programs held by local places like the Peter White Public Library in Marquette, the Negaunee Public Library in Irontown, the Ishpeming Carnegie Library farther west and the many other great libraries throughout our state.

IThe idea is to keep kids involved with reading during the summer months, and it’s something we’re proud to support.

Yes, reading is taught in schools, but a lot of it starts at home, and that means parents need to engage their children in reading, especially during the summer when the school textbooks are shelved to collect dust.

Libraries are outstanding resources for young readers, and programs like 8-18 Media help hone those communication skills we could all seek to improve.

Reading and writing all flow together to build good communicators, and that’s something this increasingly interconnected world could use more of.

— The Mining Journal (Marquette)

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