Low-income children around Michigan will be receiving free books and reading instruction this year through the newly-developed Culture of Reading program at the Michigan Department of Education.
The program is designed to coordinate private donations to help build a culture of reading in Michigan, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said.
“There are too many people, including children and adults, who cannot read,” Flanagan said. “We need that to change. To help build a culture of reading in Michigan, we need to get books in their hands and in their homes.”
Flanagan said the Culture of Reading program provides an opportunity for people to have a meaningful impact on a child’s future with minimal investment.
“A donation of as little of $5.50 will get a book into the hands of a needy child,” he said.
A coordinated, single donation collection system has been developed through the Library of Michigan Foundation to accept contributions from individuals; businesses; and groups, clubs and civic organizations for the express purpose of providing children’s books to young readers in low-income homes.
“The earlier a child is introduced to reading, the better chance they have of success in school and life,” Flanagan said. “Too many kids don’t have their own books to have and read at home when they want to. We have developed a vehicle to not only get them books, but engage their teachers and parents in the process.”
In partnership with the Library of Michigan’s Michigan Reads! program, the Michigan Department of Education will be establishing a grant opportunity that will provide copies of this year’s Michigan Reads! book to children in low-income communities, through their classrooms and early childhood programs, based on their educators’ commitment to use the books to promote scientifically-based reading instruction and/or family engagement activities focused on literacy.
The number of classrooms and early childhood programs that will receive these free books will be dependent on available resources. That’s where the public can help, Flanagan said.
“Reading is the foundation of learning and success,” Flanagan said. “Building a reading culture in every corner of this state will build a stronger Michigan for generations, and help foster a lifetime love of reading by our children.”
Generating resources for early childhood literacy, and building a culture of reading, will help Michigan attain the goal of having all children proficient in reading by the end of the third grade, Flanagan added.