MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — "Read Early. Read Often." in Muskegon County is a broad countywide effort to urge parents, siblings, grand parents and community members to read to infants and toddlers. 

A number of community partners support the effort to improve literacy in the county by hosting play and learn groups nearly every day of the week.

"Play and Learn" groups are held at churches, libraries, museums, and even two laundry mats in Muskegon County.

Suds of West Michigan in Muskegon Heights is one of those sites. The laundry mat on Sandford Street hosts "Play and Lean" groups twice monthly. Business owner Andrea Jonaitis even offers customers who bring children to the event free dry time while children read, sing, learn letters, and socialize with other children.

"There's not a lot for kids to do at a laundry mat, so this provides them with activities during the event and they also provide us with books, so those kids have books to read while they're here and then they get to take them with them," Jonaitis said. 

Read Early Read Often
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In 2019 Read Early. Read Often. gave away 29,000 books.

"The thing that we love the most about those unique settings is that it gives families the opportunity to integrate literacy into their everyday activity," said Allison Keessen, Read Early. Read Often. Coordinator for the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District.

Muskegon Heights resident Princess Warren brought her two-year old nephew to a recent "Play and Lean" at the laundry mat. "I think this is a good opportunity for him to be around other kids and interact and get the feel of starting school," Warren said.

Read early. Read often. is holding a party to celebrate its' sixth birthday March 7 from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m., at the Watermark 920, in Muskegon.

To learn more about the program, visit www.muskegonisd.org/earlychildhood/rero/ or the Read Early. Read Often. Facebook page.

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