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Summer campaign aims to improve MI student reading levels

Summer is here and school is out, but a new campaign in southwest Michigan is trying to improve low reading levels of students.

“Summer started about a week and a half ago,” student reader Lola Laurent said.

But Laurent and some of her friends are spending part of their summer vacation reading for fun.

“In the summer you don’t learning anything, you just like play around, but when you read, it’s like your own mini lesson,” Laurent said.

A mini lesson members of the Southwest Michigan United Way are hoping to continue with their new ‘Need to Read’ campaign.

“[It’s] addressing the summer slide that kind of happens with kids as they go from one school year to the other,” Business Development Director of United Way of Southwest Michigan Catie Brown said.

The goal of the campaign is to keep Michigan students’ minds in tune throughout their summer break.

A 2014 Michigan League for Public Policy Report says 51-percent of Cass County third graders and 49-percent of Berrien County third graders are not proficient in English or Language Arts.

And the 2016 Michigan State of Education report ranks the mitten state 41st out of 50 for fourth grade reading, and it warns that ranking could rise to 48th if no changes are made.

“So this is an important way for us to take the longest day of the year and take just some time out of that day to help those kids see the importance of reading,” Brown said.

Five 1st Source Banks in Michiana hosted reading events Tuesday, and the campaign will continue online throughout the summer.

“I love reading!” Laurent said.

If you and your family want to participate in the campaign, you can post a picture on social media of what books you are reading with the hashtag #TheNeedToRead.

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