Spinal Column: Let’s celebrate reading in March and beyond

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

It’s that time of year again: The snow is melting, our kids are seeing the light at the end of the school-year tunnel, basketball is in the air, and buds will soon be on the trees.

March means all these things. But it also means it’s time once again to focus on an activity that is both pleasurable and highly profitable: reading.

March is Reading Month.

For students across the state, this means that they will concentrate more exclusively this month on reading and its benefits.

Those benefits are many — and they start well before kids become students. For example, the benefits of parents talking, reading and singing to their infant children and continuing on for the first several years of their children’s lives are immense. Children learn more rapidly in their first six years than at any other stage in life as the brain’s neurons, synapses and connections are formed and strengthened by a caregiver interacting with a child.

Learning to read at a young age increases a student’s ability to remember facts, comprehend information and be successful in both school and a career.

Unfortunately, about one in six children who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers. Encouraging students to read and teaching the basics of language are vital steps on the path to a brighter Michigan future.

In addition, reading expands the imaginations of both children and adults. It teaches us to ask good questions and envision a better life. A lifelong love of reading is essential for a balanced and successful life, and fostering this love in students at a young age leads to greater achievements at all levels of their education.

Reading is good for us. It’s good for our minds; it’s good for our education; it’s good for our social life and human interaction; it’s good for our careers. But equally important to all these benefits: Reading is fun.

So this March and beyond, crack open a book, and encourage the young people in your life to do the same.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.