Yesterday was National Read Across America Day, and I could think of no better way to celebrate the occasion than by sharing a book by one of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss, with some great Arizona students. I started the day reading with a group of bright and enthusiastic kids, from Kindergarten through 3rd grade, at Encanto Elementary School in Phoenix. And later, I had the pleasure of visiting with 4th, 5th, and 6th graders from all over the state at the Salvation Army KROC Center in South Phoenix at a reading event hosted by the Arizona Cardinals. I read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” – a favorite of my wife, Angela, and mine, and a book that has been an essential read for all three of my sons. I like the book because it inspires young people to dream beyond their own expectations, to find their way based on their own strengths, to persevere through the tough times, to never give up and – in the words of Dr. Seuss – to “move mountains!” The wisdom of Dr. Seuss is eternal – and while many of us remember reading this book as children, the lessons are relevant at any age, young or old.
In my first year in office, I have repeatedly stressed the importance of early literacy to our kids’ futures. I believe strongly that a child’s success in school starts with, and depends on, their ability to read. Children begin developing language and early literacy skills from birth. In fact, research shows that vocabulary starts to appear as early as 18 months, and 90 percent of a child’s critical brain development happens before Kindergarten. Studies also show that the more positive interactions children have with the adults in their lives, the more their skills and abilities will develop. In other words, the earlier and more often we prioritize reading in our children’s lives, the better off they will be.
This is crucial because children who arrive at Kindergarten with a love of reading are more likely to be successful students down the line. This happens in many ways – but mostly, children learn to love to read because they are read to by their parents. And, given that reading proficiency by the end of 3rd grade is a strong predictor of high school graduation, it’s never too early to start.
Last summer, my wife Angela and I filmed a public service announcement for the Summer Reading Collaborative, a great partnership between Read On Arizona, community organizations, schools and other entities committed to childhood literacy. We asked Arizona parents and students to be committed to learning year-round by keeping their minds active and engaged throughout the long summer months. We encouraged young people to take advantage of local libraries and the wealth of adventure they could find in books.
March is National Reading Month – and in the spirit of encouraging young people to read – my office will highlight a children’s book every day via our Twitter account. We want to celebrate the authors who have brought us such classics as “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Corduroy,” and the “Giving Tree” – as well as new classics like “Harry Potter,” “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” and “Fancy Nancy.”
This blog post is also the inaugural entry for the Governor's Office of Education Blog, which will bring you stories of education trends, successes, policy developments, and more, written by me, the Governor's Office of Education staff, and guest bloggers who are making an impact in education in Arizona. I couldn't think of a better way to kick this blog off than with a reminder of the importance of early literacy. Please help spread our message and encourage families across Arizona to keep reading!
- Governor Doug Ducey
To see pictures from Governor Ducey's Read Across America Day visits, click here.