Reading for Your Future: Leon County Looks to Books

By: Gina Pitisci Email
By: Gina Pitisci Email

September 17, 2012

In a society consumed with video games, television shows and new technology, how much do we actually spend reading?

According to Ray King, the Director of Primary Reading and Support at Leon County Schools "While at the same time we are losing jobs that are perhaps at a third grade reading level or lower, we're gaining jobs at a pace of about 1500 a year that require a grade 13 or higher ability to read and interpret a written language."

In the last 4 years, Leon County Schools has implemented a reading program for first and third graders who were struggling during their first grade year and provides support during the summer months. King says "We've really emphasized the importance of quality reading programs in primary through second. We've done a tremendous amount of work in preparing students that do not read to be able to read a lot earlier than in the past."

Parent and avid reader, Rhonda Burns, says reading has always been a priority in her family. Says Burns, "I think it's so important to start out with your children reading. You can introduce them to many different worlds through books, there's just so much to spark their imagination, it's just so important."

Experts say, if you are not able to read at the end of the first grade, approximately 80 percent of adults carry that problem into adulthood. It can be a stumbling block to finding a job and just generally getting along in society.

King states, "The studies basically say that any child coming into kindergarten with a thousand hours of being read to, that's from birth through entering kindergarten, have a much more successful kindergarten year and are much better prepared to learn to read."

According to King, ideally kids in the middle grades should read 30 to 45 minutes a day and says "Often times youngsters that are very skilled at the social network are not necessarily skilled at the academic part of the technology so our goal is to take some of those skills from the social networking and work them into academic skills as well."

Reading has not only helped Rhonda's son excel in his life but it has helped her as well. She says, "There's not only entertainment to be found in books but morals, life lessons, just hundreds of things, hundreds of ways to learn to benefit your life."

For more information on reading programs with Leon County Schools, contact Ray King at

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