March is Reading Month, but read every day of year

March is National Reading Month and was created in 1998 to celebrate the March 2 birthday of beloved author Dr. Seuss.

The National Education Association (NEA) explained it wanted to create an excitement around reading: “We hold pep rallies to get kids excited about football. We assemble to remember that Character Counts. Why don’t we do something to get kids excited about reading? We’ll call it ‘NEA’s Read Across America’ and we’ll celebrate it on Dr. Seuss’s birthday.”

Motivation is an important component in student achievement and creating lifelong readers. Research has shown children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.

Schools are always searching for ways to increase reading motivation. Many schools will host contests, family literacy events and even pajama days to promote time for uninterrupted reading.

Schools are beginning to use caution when it comes to handing out prizes for reading motivation and goals. In a study done by Marinak & Gambrell in 2008, they find: “Unless these prizes are directly related to reading (e.g., books), this practice actually makes students less likely to choose reading as an activity in the future.”

By rewarding reading with more reading, the message students learn is to value the time spent engaging with books. The ultimate goal is to motivate students to read every day of the year, not just in a special month.

Reading requires patience, effort and perseverance. Reading is like any skill, so it must be practiced for growth and development.

We can set examples that inspire our children to read as they grow. Letting your kids see you read every day sets a great example. Keep books, magazines, newspapers, etc. out to encourage everyone to read. Take trips to the public library or bookstores for a fun outing together.

Making reading a daily habit has many positive effects on people of all ages. Keeping your brain engaged can increase your knowledge, vocabulary, writing abilities and thinking skills. Those who read regularly have a better memory, ability to focus, and longer concentration skills. All of which are helpful in school and the workplace.

How does reading help improve concentration? We spend our time so divided between tasks, email, social media and notifications, and we only focus on each for a short time period. When we spend time reading, our attention is fixated on the story or to gain a better understanding of a topic. Reading gives us time for focused thinking.

The Copper Country Intermediate School District’s literacy coach, along with the network of literacy leaders from each district, are working together to support literacy for every child, in every classroom every day. We know March is reading month, and it is a great time to celebrate books of all kinds. Next month is April, and that is also a great time to celebrate books of all kinds. Help students create a habit of reading every day throughout the year.

George Stockero is superintendent of the Copper Country Intermediate School District.