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Literacy is essential for student success
Brown 228

Literacy and reading are center stage across the country for Read Across America Week, which begins on the annual March 2 Read Across America Day.

That includes San Joaquin County, where participating classrooms engage students in creative and fun activities for young readers.

It follows the Feb. 29 Stockton Rotary Read-In, an annual event where volunteers visit classrooms in dozens of schools to read aloud from favorite books that they leave with the students as a donation.

While showcasing the power of books to unlock new worlds and inspire young minds, Read Across America and the Rotary Read-In also build and strengthen a community focused on reading and literacy. They show our students how much we value reading and its importance to their education as well as provide access to books.

The celebration and learning can carry on throughout the year, even outside of school. Plan a trip to the library with young readers in your life or have a discussion about what they are reading using open-ended questions. Whatever you choose, it’s important to have fun and embrace the joy of learning.

It’s also never too early to start on the path to literacy. Parents and guardians are a child’s first teacher, from infancy until they start school. Talking and singing introduces language. You can also pick a letter and have your child name something around the home that also starts with that letter. Make reading part of your household routine to highlight its importance.

Literacy is critical to the future of all our children and aligned with ensuring their educational experiences provide equitable access to academic growth and social-emotional development.

Literacy is directly related to job readiness, healthcare access, economic development, and the overall well-being of our entire community. Improving literacy can contribute to economic growth, help reduce poverty, promote critical thinking, and provide individuals with access to information to be engaged in their community.

For students, literacy is the foundation for skills and knowledge to support them on their academic journey. Reading by the third grade is the most critical academic skill for youth because it sets the foundation for future learning and academic success. In grades TK through third, students are learning to read. In fourth grade and beyond, they are reading to learn.

We recently took an important step toward the goal of ensuring students in San Joaquin County become proficient readers by the end of third grade with a declaration of support I have signed along with the superintendents of all 14 San Joaquin County school districts, the president of Teachers College of San Joaquin, and the superintendent/president of San Joaquin Delta College.

This declaration, made in October, affirms each organization’s commitment to joining a new Early Literacy Community of Practice and reaffirms their dedication to literacy and building on existing work being done. The newly formed Community of Practice is a workgroup focused on literacy in transitional kindergarten through third grade that will align its effort with the science of reading. Grounded in scientific research, this Community of Practice will be a place where educators exchange ideas, share best practices, and learn from each other how to make a positive impact in classrooms across San Joaquin County.

The goal is to be able to meet the needs of all our students so they learn to read by the time they leave the third grade. As readers, our students will have the vital foundational skills to help them excel in school and become lifelong learners. To read the declaration of support letter and find more information about early literacy, please go to

Taking these important steps will show what we can accomplish when we work together, and it strengthens our local community focused on the importance of reading and literacy.

It’s a community we can all be a part of, whether we participate in Read Across America week or simply open a book at any time of the year and read to a child.


Troy A. Brown, Ed.D., serves as the San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools.