WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Read Across Iowa will be celebrated on March 1, 2021 and throughout the month of March to bring the joys of reading to students of all ages making all children feel valued and welcomed. This agriculturally themed Read Across Iowa event and the accompanying resources will feature books and materials about agriculture that will appeal to all readers.
Research shows that reading to children and having books in the home is one of the strongest predictors of school success. Children who read and listen to books hear a greater variety of words – up to 50% more – leading to a better vocabulary than those who watch media. Children raised in homes with more than 500 books spent three years longer in school than children whose parents had only a few books, but even homes with 25 books have been associated with completing two more years of school than having no books in the home.
“This agriculturally themed Read Across Iowa event and the accompanying resources will feature books and materials about agriculture that will appeal to all readers,” said Will Fett, executive director of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. “Agriculture is essential to the economy of Iowa. Agriculture is a great way to contextualize learning. Everybody eats and learning about our food system can be fun too!”
Educators can request a kit of free books and materials to participate. The kit will include books like My Family’s Soybean Farm, Full of Beans: Henry Ford Grows a Car, Carlos and the Cornfield, and Las calabacitas de Zora (Zora’s Zucchini). The kit will also include read aloud tips, parent tips, and more. Supplies are limited and kits will be available to the first 1,000 requests.
“Researchers estimate reading can reduce stress up to 68%,” said Constance Beecher, associate professor and family literacy extension state specialist for IowaState University. “Adults with a reading habit are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.”
As a part of the program, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offices will also be getting kits and books to that they can assist local educators in participating in the celebrations.
“It is important to help motivate our kids to read, bring the joys of reading to students of all ages, and help make all children feel valued and welcome,” said IowaState Education Association president, Mike Beranek.
Read Across Iowa is organized as a collaborative effort between the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa 4-H Youth Development, and the Iowa State Education Association. Some books and materials were provided by donations and grants from Dollar General, GROWMARK, the National Education Association, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and other partners of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation.
To learn more and request a free kit with books for students, visit IowaAgLiteracy.org.
–Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation