Reading is the gateway to new ideas and knowledge. It empowers children to stretch their imaginations, explore their world, and discover all of its exciting possibilities. Building literacy skills early in life prepares children for success. Reading at grade level by the end of third grade gives children the foundational skills they need to excel in all subjects, from 4th grade all the way through high school. When students enter fourth grade as strong readers they’re better prepared to learn, graduate, and succeed in life. Currently only 44% of third grade students in Michigan are proficient readers according to the statewide English Language Arts Assessment. That’s why in 2016 Michigan passed a comprehensive reading law to support increased literacy achievement by the end of third grade. Known as read by grade three it focuses on identifying struggling readers early and giving them the additional specialized supports they need to read on grade level by the end of third grade. As part of read by grade three schools assess students reading skills throughout the year every year to ensure students are on the path to becoming strong readers. Teachers receive literacy focused professional development. To provide additional supports in school and at home for struggling readers teachers work closely with parents to create individual reading improvement plans. Students who are still struggling and reading at the end of 3rd grade are retained and receive an extra year of intensive support so they enter fourth grade ready for success. We want to prepare all of our children to excel in reading and schools can’t do it alone. As parents you have an important role to play in helping your children become strong readers. Start early, sing and talk with your child as often as possible, and read with them at least 20 minutes each day. Ask your child questions about what they read and encourage them to practice reading and writing in daily life. Ask your child’s teacher or a librarian at school or at the public library for help picking out books that are of interest to your child. Learning to read takes time and practice. We can all work together as a community to provide every child a support they need to become strong readers and ensure a bright future for all Michigan students.