The third annual Kentucky Literacy Celebration week is next week, March 4-8. The result of collaboration among several literacy/education institutions and Kentucky’s First Lady Jane Beshear, Kentucky Literacy Celebration is intended to highlight the issue of literacy in Kentucky, celebrate accomplishments made, and focus on the challenges we still face as a state. Kentucky Youth Advocates is spreading the word because we know how vital reading proficiency is – to overall school achievement, to the ability to get and keep a good-paying job, to helping children with their school work, and so much more.

Our 2012 Kentucky KIDS COUNT County Data Book reported that 49.4 percent of Kentucky 3rd graders scored proficient or higher in reading during school year 2011-2012. We know that reading proficiency by the end of 3rd grade is absolutely critical to school success in all later grades. Up through 3rd grade, students are learning to read, but beginning in 4th grade they are reading to learn all their other subjects and engage in critical thinking. While Kentucky student reading proficiency scores have generally been moving in a positive direction over the past few years, we clearly still have a long way to go when only half of our 3rd graders have achieved proficiency.

The goal of next week’s Kentucky Literacy Celebration is to have every Kentucky resident engage in a literacy event, public or private, to emphasize the importance of all aspects of literacy. What can you specifically do? The possibilities are limitless! Schools can plan events (such as a read-in) for their students and staff. Libraries can spotlight books/authors and hold public readings. Businesses can start an office book club and encourage employees to get a library card. Families can set aside dedicated time to read together. And we can all help spread the word about adult education opportunities for adults who still struggle to read well. Find out what events are planned for your community here, and share information about an event you’re planning here.