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Michiganders "Marching" into Literacy

Literacy experts say it's important to help children develop a love of reading beginning at an early age. (Pixabay)
Literacy experts say it's important to help children develop a love of reading beginning at an early age. (Pixabay)
March 2, 2016

LANSING, Mich. - Michiganders young and old are encouraged to pick up a book today in celebration of a beloved children's author. "Read Across America Day" honors Dr. Seuss, and also is part of National March into Literacy Month.

Strong reading and writing skills are key to securing a solid economic future, especially in this information age, said Wendy Falb, executive director of the Literacy Center of West Michigan. Now more than ever, she said, educators are armed with knowledge of what's needed to promote literacy.

"We have a lot more drill-down methodologies," she said, "and we also know larger contextual issues that impact it - like attendance, literacy practices at the home, the parents' level of literacy, environmental issues that cause chronic absenteeism or even long-term cognitive issues."

In a technology culture that focuses less on literacy, Falb said, it's crucial that families focus on it at home. It is recommended that parents read with children starting at a young age, and also model good literacy habits by reading themselves.

The pleasure a parent takes in reading and the effects it has on a child can't be underestimated, said Falb, adding that these will resonate even with reluctant readers.

"Even if it's difficult for your child to sit still," she said, "if it's an expectation and it's something you do with love - and they recognize it - then I think the children will be eager to spend that time with a caring parent, and they'll come around."

During March into Literacy Month, Michigan schools and libraries offer activities, speakers and educational programming to encourage a love of reading among people of all ages.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI