“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

When we read books, we learn new things and we go on vicarious adventures. Reading is an interesting activity that combines entertainment value with educational value.

Reading and literacy are so important that there are several national observances related to reading throughout the year, including Take Your Child to the Library Day (February), National Read Aloud Month (March), and National Young Readers Week (November). The month of April celebrates National Library Week and National Poetry Month.

April is also School Library Month, which celebrates school librarians, their programs and the roles they play in student achievement. The theme for School Library Month 2017 is “Because School Libraries Empower Students.”

School libraries, and libraries in general, give students the capability to do many things. Libraries can empower students to read more books and discover the world through reading. They give a sense of empowerment to young readers by offering children the chance to select books specific to their interests and reading levels.

In addition to offering an abundance of curriculum-based resources, school librarians provide a framework for teaching research skills and digital literacy. School libraries equip students with lifelong learning skills and the ability to retrieve and evaluate information, qualities that will help our students be successful in college and career.

Students can become empowered when librarians help them gain new knowledge, answer questions, use computer networks, access expensive resources such as research databases or e-Book collections, and so many other things that can help students to realize more of their personal potential.

School librarians are also vital for reading success. More than 20 state studies confirm that the presence of a full-time certified school librarian can make a remarkable difference in student reading achievement and test scores, particularly for elementary students, according to the American Association of School Librarians.

Beyond our school libraries, the Hudson City School District promotes numerous programs that support reading and literacy among students of all ages. John L. Edwards Primary School hosts an annual Read Across America literacy event that invites members of the school and community to read to students throughout the day in celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

Likewise, the M. C. Smith Intermediate School (MCSIS) recently hosted its fifth annual Read-a-thon event. The Read-a-thon emphasizes books and the importance of reading in a school-wide “competition.” Each class reads a different book and then creates a persuasive presentation to convince other classes to vote for their book. Last year’s theme was the “Academy Awards” and this year’s theme took a “March Madness” bracket approach. Students have multiple opportunities to experience literature during the event with guest readers, reading in groups and reading independently. Read-a-thon is a highlight for many in the school and community, and it is successful in unifying an entire building over the love of reading.

Perhaps the biggest success for early literacy-related programs at HCSD is Hudson Reads, which pairs students in grades 3-5 with reading mentors from the community. The mission of the Hudson Reads program is to foster children’s literacy and a love of learning through paired reading experiences with caring individuals. Mentors visit the Intermediate School several days a week to help students in building confidence, self-esteem and academic skills, as well as a love of reading and learning. Students are able to strengthen their reading skills by listening to their mentors read and by practicing reading aloud themselves. The practice and support our students at MCSIS receive from their reading mentors gives them the confidence to keep reading, both in school and just for fun.

The hugely successful Hudson Reads program, as with many of our successful programs at HCSD, would not possible without the help of a legion of community members who volunteer their time to help our students practice their reading skills. This is one example among many that displays the incredible collaboration between our school district and our community.

Lastly, the most popular and far-reaching literacy event is the annual Hudson Children’s Book Festival, which coincides with Children’s Book Week (May 1-7, 2017). Each year, we invite participating authors to visit K-8 classrooms the day before the festival to speak with students about reading and writing. It is one of the most highly anticipated days of the school year.

This year’s Hudson Children’s Book Festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hudson Jr./Sr. High School. If you are interested in volunteering for this special event, please send an email to hcbf@hudsoncsd.org.

At the HCSD, we are continually finding ways to promote a love and appreciation for reading and learning throughout all grade levels. Our school libraries, in partnership with the Hudson Area Library, do exceptional work providing our students with learning opportunities to support them in and out of school. The virtue of libraries, librarians, and the roles the play in our children’s educations should be celebrated all year long.