SALINE COUNTY, Ark. — March is designated as National Reading Month; a month to motivate Americans, both young and old, to read every day.

Velma Wilson is an educator at the Saline County Adult Education Center.

With more than 40 years of teaching experience; Wilson says it’s important for parents to be engaged and active in their child’s development. She says Arkansas’s future success depends on our children’s well-being.

Velma Wilson has been teaching children for more than 40 years.

“Parents also make certain that we are reading to our students at that very young age and that helps them as they progress on into their courses in elementary, junior high,” Wilson says.

Wilson says she sees how the state is gradually improving when it comes to education as a whole, but still feels reading is not where it should be.

“By the time children are in 8th grade they should be reading at higher levels,” she says. “It’s not just reading but comprehension that is important.”

Despite teachers’ efforts, Arkansans young and old are still struggling with reading, according to Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. A non-profit group helping to monitor all children and their families have the resources and opportunities to lead healthy and productive lives, while realizing their full potential, according to their website.

With Arkansas ranked 39th nationally when it comes to reading scores – this leaves the state’s children falling in the lower third compared to other states, according to 2019 Data Book, a non-profit that looks at the latest national trends and state rankings.

“I believe in the state of Arkansas we are making progress in reading proficiency,” Wilson says. “Our Governor Asa Hutchinson has pushed this by implementing that most of our three and four-year-olds are in a pre-school setting.”

Wilson understands that the change won’t happen overnight, but she is determined to continue teaching and helping to educate our future generations.

“It’s important because reading proficiency and reading comprehensions are essential for everyday life,” she says.

Wilson says she has seen an increase in students coming to the center for a GED because their employers are now requiring them to have one.

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