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BRAD ROBICHAUX — Why read? Because Y Reads program can help

How much reading do you do in a day? It doesn’t have to be from a book or a newspaper to count as reading — you’ll find words on a road sign or a restaurant menu that need as much deciphering as any long-winded novel.

Reading is a skill we use every day — for some of us it might be a few words here and there, and in my case most of my day is spent working with words.

Now remember how much reading you did during your school years.

So much of education comes from reading that any student who struggles with this most important of skills can expect to have an enormous, compounding barrier to overcome just to acquire the most basic understanding of their school lessons.

How does a student glean knowledge from a book if they struggle to read it?

This is why programs like Y Reads at the YMCA of Southeast Texas Port Arthur Branch are worth the effort: We’re forging a better-educated future by making sure our next generation has a solid grasp on reading.

School officials see clear returns from partnering with the YMCA program, as Staff Sergeant Lucian Adams Elementary Principal Cheryl Tripplett said in a weekend story in The Port Arthur News.

“We’ve really seen the benefit and have seen it improve their reading skills, and the students absolutely love working with the YMCA directors,” Tripplett said. “Half the time they beat the teachers here looking for them in the morning.

“We’ve had the Y Reads program here for years. It’s so beneficial for our students because it helps with tutoring. It allows us to do tutoring for the lower grades K-5.”

Learning to read also does wonders for students’ confidence.

“We even help with their self-esteem, because if they are low readers, they often struggle with their self-esteem and don’t want to speak out or read out,” said Brittany Mercer, childcare and literacy director at YMCA Port Arthur.

Confident students are students who aren’t afraid to learn new things and take on challenges. Confidence builds the character necessary to face down tough problems, and students who aren’t afraid to learn will have the knowledge to not just take on those problems, but possibly solve them, too.

The reading program requires a teacher recommendation, and students and parents must speak with the teacher and register with the program.

Reading unlocks nearly all the doors to further education. With proficient reading anyone can be a lifelong student, and all they’d need is a book. I don’t know if there’s anything more important for students to learn.

Knowledgeable, confident youngsters: That’s the recipe for a better future.

Brad Robichaux is a reporter for The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at brad.robichaux@panews.com.