School districts join forces for reading

Xavier Smith • Updated Nov 16, 2016 at 3:00 PM

The Lebanon Special School District and Wilson County Schools have joined forces with the Children’s Reading Foundation to help promote the importance of reading.

The groups held a luncheon Monday to kick off the “Read 20” program, designed to educate the parents of newborns, toddlers and pre-K students about the benefits of reading to a child 20 minutes daily from birth to the age of 5.

“We are here to stress the importance of reading,” said Penny Thompson, Lebanon Special School District instructional coordinator and pre-kindergarten director.

“The most important reason we are here is for our students or kids and their dreams of their career and what they want to be when they grow up.”

Thompson said that in Wilson County, 53 percent of students are reading on a proficient level. She said its important for students to enter schools with a solid reading foundation, noting children have a 12 percent chance of attending a 4-year postsecondary institute if they’re behind in reading in kindergarten.

She also noted 74 percent of poor readers in third grade remain poor readers in high school and beyond.

Linda Vinson with The Children’s Reading Foundation stressed the importance and difference 20 minutes of daily reading could make in a child’s life.

“There’s no controversy on this. Nobody is going to talk to you about how to teach kids to read. We’re simply asking you to spend time with a child 20 minutes a day and promote the concept from birth up,” she said.

Vinson highlighted that a child that reads 20 minutes a day reads approximately 3,600 minutes (60 hours) and 1.8 million words in a school year and places in the 90th percentile.

She compared that to a child that reads 5 minutes per day (900 minutes and 282,000 words) and a child that reads 1 minute a day equals (180 minutes and 8,000 words).

Nancy Ash, associate director of schools and director of teaching and learning for the Lebanon Special School District, said reading, like any other skill, requires dedication.

“If you’re going to be good in any sport you have to practice. You cannot develop those skills without practicing those skills. A skill is something you have to continue to practice and you get better as you practice,” she said.

“As a community, we need to spread the word that reading is extremely important and we need to practice it everyday, because we don’t want anybody in this community to get to the point where they don’t have the ability to accomplish what they want to accomplish in life.”

Vinson also highlighted The Ready! For Kindergarten school readiness program aimed to prepare every child for school success. The research-based program was developed by early learning experts and teaches parents and caregivers how to nurture their child’s development from birth to age 5.

For more information on the Children’s Reading Foundation, visit www.readingfoundation.org

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