Celebrate Reading in March
March 17, 2014

Celebrate Reading In March

Amazon posted recently with suggestions for National Reading Month, which happens to be March. It seems to stem from a National Educators Association effort called “Read Across America.” During the entire month of March, schools focus students on reading. Some schools have contests; others promote specific books, and others do different activities. All across America schools focus on reading.

But it is not just school students who celebrate National Reading Month. Colleges, universities, businesses, and individuals celebrate as well. National Reading Month is a month that promotes sitting down and just reading for all of us. So often we get caught up in our lives and forget the importance of just enjoying a good book. Whether that book is fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or play, taking the time to read it and enjoy the action of reading is important. That is what National Reading Month is all about.

This March, let’s spread the word about National Reading Month because reading is important and necessary. Without reading, so much is lost, so much is hurt, and so much is never realized. DoSomething.org compiled a list of reading statistics from resources like the Huffington Post, Scientific Learning, and Reading is Fundamental. These highlight just how important promoting reading still is in today’s world:

  1. Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70 percent of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.
  2. 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.
  3. As of 2011, America was the only free-market OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) country where the current generation was less well educated than the previous.
  4. Literacy is a learned skill. Illiteracy is passed down from parents who can neither read nor write.
  5. Nearly 85 percent of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, proving that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime. More than 60 percent of all inmates are functionally illiterate.
  6. 53 percent of 4th graders admitted to reading recreationally “almost every day,” while only 20 percent of 8th graders could say the same. (2009 study)
  7. 75 percent of Americans who receive food stamps perform at the lowest 2 levels of literacy, and 90 percent of high school dropouts are on welfare.
  8. Teenage girls ages 16 to 19 who live at or below the poverty level and have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to have children out of wedlock than the girls their age who can read proficiently.
  9. Reports show that low literacy directly costs the healthcare industry over $70 million every year.
  10. In 2013, Washington, D.C. was ranked the most literate American city for the third year in a row, with Seattle and Minneapolis close behind.
  11. Long Beach, CA was ranked the country’s most illiterate city, followed by Mesa, AZ, and Aurora, CO.

Reading is important for so many reasons. Not only does it impact in ways as listed above, but also reading helps individuals create, problem solve, experience, learn, and grow. Through reading so much happens, and if we are not promoting and teaching each other how to read, we are potentially losing so much.

This March, read a book, but also encourage loved ones, coworkers, and others to read as well. Help a kid who struggles with reading by reading to them and letting them read to you. Help an adult who struggles with reading by supporting, guiding, and encouraging. Get them to a literacy program, show them to a local library for its adult literacy class, or take them to the local community college and help them enroll. Reading is too important not to support.

Happy National Reading Month!

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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