Dist. 911 ‘Did You Know:’ Why Literacy?

Bruce A. Novak

Superintendent, District 911

Minnesota’s Legislators recently passed several bills related to helping children be successful in school by ensuring all students read proficiently by the end of Grade 3. What does this mean and why the increased focused on literacy?

Learning to read is probably the most important skill for success that a child will have. Without reading competency, students have more difficulty in school and struggle later in life. Poor reading skills lead to limited employment opportunities, limited or low income potential and other quality of life issues. These results have a long reaching impact on society in general.

Everyone benefits when children have the basic skills to read and understand printed words and use them to creatively solve problems on their own. For this very reason it makes sense that we provide every opportunity for all children to develop these skills through strong literacy programs.

I believe it is our responsibility, parents, teachers and grandparents, to instill a love of reading in our children. It is never too early or too late to make this happen. Read to your child every day, this can begin when they are infants. Make reading an enjoyable activity, a special time for the two of you. Help your child learn as you read and show pictures that relate to the words or story being read. Ask questions as you read and help your child connect the story to his or her life.

Children develop a love of literacy through books. Take them to the library and let them choose books they are interested in. On special occasions, like birthdays or Christmas, give the gift of a book. When choosing books for your child or a friend, be sure to pick a book of their interest at their reading level. Make reading a fun and enjoyable way to explore the world.

This literacy is an initiative that has gained considerable attention across the country and state. The reason is, literacy is the ability to read fluently, use strategies to understand written words and comprehend what has been read. Other skills include listening, thinking, sharing and problem solving.

How much of a difference can you make? Look at the following statistics and what 1 hour a day can do for your child:

• An average of 2 minutes of reading or talking to your child will result in a vocabulary of fewer than 4,000 words.

• An average of 1 hour of reading or talking to your child will result in a vocabulary of 8,000 to 10,000 words.

• An average of more than 1 hour of reading or talking to your child will result in a vocabulary of more than 10,000 words.

Research shows us that when children enter kindergarten, they need to know at least 10,000 words to become successful readers. Let’s work together to improve literacy of all children.