When was the last time you listened to someone read aloud? Do you remember reading with your family before bed as a child? What about participating in storytime at your local library? What about your favorite elementary school memory – does it involve your teacher reading aloud? Chances are that if you are an adult who considers yourself a reader, you listened to someone read aloud frequently growing up.
Libraries all across Michigan step up every year in March to celebrate National Reading Month and the National Education Association’s “Read Across America” initiative. There are so many fun ways to celebrate but what can you do as a local legislator?
Today, we encourage you to step up and pick a favorite book to read aloud (virtually or in-person) at the public or school library in your district!
Our school and public libraries are places where childhood literacy is introduced. And we know from study after study that reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. Early reading ignites creativity, sparks curiosity, and stimulates the imagination in young children. Often, this leads to role-play as children grow which helps to develop other skills such as empathy, problem-solving, and morality.
Reading is a critical and essential tool for a well-rounded and educated population. But there is a lot of room for growth. In 2019, Michigan rose to 32nd in the nation in fourth grade reading – up from 35th in 2017 and 41st in 2015. Dr. Rice, the Superintendent for the Michigan Department of Education has said much more work needs to be done, and we couldn’t agree more. After-school literacy, summer literacy, parent education and family literacy, and diversity in literacy are all areas in which the state has room to improve.
And this is where our public libraries can help make our state's national standing stronger. Schools cannot do this alone...more investment and more resources for libraries will help achieve the results that we are striving toward.
So how do you get involved in reading aloud? The Michigan Library Association would be happy to connect you with your local school or public library so you can participate in March is Reading Month. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will connect the dots.
Participating in a read-aloud or storytime is a great way for you to engage with the community. It is also a wonderful way for your library to build a relationship with you and strengthen our collective efforts to build a well-rounded literary agenda.