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13 Reads: Lakeshore preschools aim to get kids reading early

Even before kids head to kindergarten, experts say exposure to books and reading is extremely important.

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — As March continues to celebrate National Reading Month, 13 ON YOUR SIDE continues to highlight literacy around West Michigan through our 13 Reads initiative.

Even before kids head to kindergarten, experts say exposure to books and reading is extremely important.

"Literacy is very important early on," said Colleen Walters, the Executive Director of Lakeshore Little People's Place, which is a preschool with four locations on the lakeshore.

"This is the time where all of those early reader skills come into play," said Cassie Avink, the Site Director for Lakeshore Little People's Place Hamilton South location. "All of the finger plays, the songs, the alliteration, the sounds that they're forming, go together to make those words. Words turn into sentences, and sentences turn into books!"

For preschools like Lakeshore Little People's Place, they said they do the best they can to get young children ready for reading. 

"I think when we, as early learning programs, can get kids excited about reading and we can get them excited about books, then it just sets that foundation for later reading success," Walters said. 

One thing they become concerned about, though, are the months when kids aren't in school and getting regular structured time with books.

"What can happen over the summer when kids are not in school or not in preschool, there can be learning loss," Walters explained.

But leaders like Walters and Avink said programs like Kids Read Now, which delivers free books to homes every two weeks in the summer, is helping keep kids exposed to reading. 

"By putting books in the hands of the kiddos at home, that's one way to do that," Walters explained.

"It's really important that they receive the resources they need to continue that literacy, and to keep building what we have within our walls and our programs," added Avink. 

You can learn more about Kids Read Now and even get your family signed up by clicking here.

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