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Making literacy a family affair

Reading. It’s the key to so much success in life. Education and careers are founded on having a strong command of the English language, which is why it’s so critical our young students hone their literacy skills during their journey into adulthood. Whether in school or at home, reading needs to be inspired and supported in order to make children successful. 

The North East (Webutuck) Central School District encouraged all things reading at its third annual Family Literacy Night on Thursday, May 31. The night promoted reading to young students, but just as importantly provided parents with helpful tools to advance reading and literacy skills at home.

Stations were set up to teach both caregivers and students alike how to get the most out of reading. Word games were popular, as were activities featured around the “Reading Rocks!” theme. Mad Lib stations, stations about cause and effect, stations in which students learned to follow instructions, stations encouraging detailed descriptions and stations about finding “Magic Sight Words” were all part of the night.

Parents were informed of ways to promote literacy no matter where they are. Useful strategies were suggested for keeping reading foremost in their children’s minds whether at home, in the car, at the supermarket or in a restaurant. The message? Opportunities to read surround us — and they should be capitalized on to ensure our children’s reading skills develop and grow, now and into the future.

We need to be able to read to function in this world, but literacy takes practice, and lots of it. 

DoSomething.org is “a global movement of 6 million young people making positive change.” It shares the following statistics — all jaw dropping.

• “1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.

• Students who “don’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times likelier to drop out of school.

• As of 2011, “America was the only free-market OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] country where the current generation was less educated than the previous one.

• “Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare. More than 70 percent of America’s inmates cannot read above a fourth-grade level.

• “Nearly 85 percent of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate. More than 60 percent of all inmates are functionally illiterate.

• “Seventy-five percent of Americans who receive food stamps perform at the lowest two levels of literacy, and 90 percent of high school dropouts are on welfare.

• “Teenage girls between the ages of 16 to 19 who live at or below the poverty line and have below average literacy skills are six times more likely to have children out of wedlock than girls their age who can read proficiently.

• “Reports show that the rate of low literacy in the United States directly costs the healthcare industry more than $70 million every year.”

These are but a few stats, all which go to prove the argument (as if it needs proving) that being literate, and having strong reading skills, makes a difference in our everyday lives. Some have more of an aptitude to excel in the English language arts than others, but everyone can learn. We need to do our best to encourage such skills, and we laud Webutuck — and other districts taking similar measures — for doing the same.