Last updated: January 22. 2014 6:42AM - 1375 Views

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Thursday is National Reading Day, an annual event which celebrates and encourages reading in young children. The day is celebrated in thousands of schools across the United States and is designed to help pre-K through third-grade students develop the literacy foundation they need to become lifelong learners. Schools, libraries, nonprofits and parents participate in a variety of activities with younger readers on National Reading Day.

Across the Public Schools of Robeson County, students are adding extra reading activities to celebrate the importance of reading. At St. Pauls Elementary School, students will read poetry aloud over the intercom. St. Pauls students will also participate in two D.E.A.R. — Drop Everything And Read — sessions in the morning and afternoon.

The students will receive bookmarks that explain how to use the “Five Finger Rule” to determine which books are “just right” for them to read. With the “Five Finger Rule,” students can pick a book and turn to any page. As the student reads, they hold up one finger for every word they don’t know. If they finish the page and only have one finger up, the book is too easy for them. If they have four or five fingers up, the book is too hard, but they may be able to read it with a buddy or save the title for next time. If the student has two or three fingers up, it is a “Just Right” book. “Just Right” means that even though the book may be challenging, students will be able to read it and improve their reading level.

During January’s Parent Night event, Amy Haigler, coordinator for the Parent-Student Center, gave all the children in attendance a book and envelope with her address. Haigler asked the students to read the books and write her a letter about what they are reading about.

Across the nation there are dozens of programs that stress the importance of reading for children and babies. The same is true for adults, who are encouraged to continue the process of learning and to keep the mind active.

Studies show reading to have a tremendous impact on a child’s future.

Here is a look at a few of those differences:

— The performance advantage among students whose parents read to them in their early school years is evident regardless of the family’s socioeconomic background, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment.

— Students who read magazines and newspapers regularly for enjoyment also tend to be better readers than those who do not, according to PISA.

— Children who grow up in homes where books are plentiful go further in school than those who don’t. Children from low-education families can do as well as children from high-education families if they have access to books at home. This comes from a study titled “Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations 2010.”

— Students who read widely and frequently are higher achievers than students who read rarely and narrowly, according to a study from Scholastic titled “Classroom Libraries Work!”

— Children learn an average of 4,000 to 12,000 new words each year as a result of book reading, according to the “Classroom Libraries Work!”study.

— Low literacy costs the United States $73 billion per year in terms of direct health care costs, according to the National Center for Family Literacy.

For information about National Reading Day, visit www.national-reading-day.org.

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