The readers’ forum

Reading can take students on an adventure


Nook. Kindle. iPad. These tablets and other technological advances are changing the way our children are being educated. While the printed page might seem like a relic of the past, reading is no less an essential part of learning, a life skill that Florida students and teachers cannot do without.

During Celebrate Literacy Week, schools can reinforce the paramount importance of reading.

Throughout the week of Jan. 13, schools across Florida will be gearing up for fun, learning and, definitely, reading.

According to the nationwide assessment known as the Nation’s Report Card, the tireless work of Florida teachers has paid off — our students have outperformed the national average in every subgroup. As a high school leader and former reading teacher, I am proud to support fellow educators in their efforts to advance literacy one classroom at a time.

By focusing on the importance of reading, Florida’s students have made great strides. In fact, the improvement in our students’ academic prowess and performance over the course of the last few years is unmatched.

Since 2011, we are the only state to narrow the achievement gap in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math between white and African-American students. In fourth-grade math and eighth-grade reading, Florida students’ academic improvement is twice as high as the national average.

Before students can read to learn, they first must learn to read — whether it’s through a traditional book or the latest electronic marvel.

This fundamental skill is the lifeblood of education, and there is no better time than the present to remind students and faculty of its vital importance.

I am issuing a call to action to teachers that is simple, affordable and easy to accomplish: Read. Encourage students to read. Go to a thrift store with $10 and emerge with four or five books that can take you and your students to faraway places without ever leaving the classroom.

Celebrate Literacy Week is the perfect time to emphasize just how important reading is. The inside of a book is the perfect place to start your next adventure.

Larissa McCoy-Mitti, 2013 Florida high school reading leader of the year, Tampa

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