Lieutenant governor encourages students to read, dream big

Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia kicks off Colorado Literacy Week at the Mesa County Central Library on Tuesday.

Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and State Library Executive Director Gene Hainer announced the theme of one statewide summer reading program and discussed the creation of another Tuesday morning at Mesa County Public Libraries’ Central Library.

The State Library’s Summer Reading Program will have the theme “Dream Big” this June and July. Anyone under the age of 20 can register at libraries throughout the state to participate in the program. The program’s goal for this year is to have participants read 2.75 million pages this summer, a boost from the 1.5 million pages last year’s 240,110 participants read in summer 2011.

“Find a Book, Colorado” will launch as well this summer. The free program will help children and adults find books that match their interests and reading abilities by answering questions at

Garcia also unveiled new posters featuring the governor and himself encouraging students to read and announced the One Book 4 Colorado program Tuesday. One Book will provide more than 70,000 copies of the same book to children across Colorado at doctor’s offices, libraries and Reach Out and Read clinics at distribution events April 18–29. The book will be available in English and Spanish and be appropriate for students with special needs.

Garcia and Hainer’s visit was one of many events scheduled to promote reading throughout the state this week during Colorado Literacy Week. Today, the lieutenant governor’s office will release an early childhood literacy report that will detail what Garcia learned during a tour of Colorado schools and libraries last fall. Garcia said the report will focus on what literacy initiatives are finding success.

“We want to share those ideas around the state,” he said.

Garcia said he set a goal of having every Colorado student leave third-grade proficient in reading at grade-level because 26 percent of Colorado students are not making that goal, which quadruples their chances of dropping out of school before earning a high school diploma. Garcia said he saw many ambitious students fall short of reaching their dreams while he was president of Colorado State University-Pueblo because they could not read or do math at college level. He added a postsecondary degree is becoming more important in today’s economy.

“If we do not educate our kids well, if they do not find success, they will not be able to provide the contributions to our state that we need in order to have an innovative economy that we all want,” Garcia said.

Hainer said the dream of having all third-graders proficient in reading may seem lofty, but he believes it is possible if parents, teachers and community organizations work to help kids read. “It is, as the lieutenant governor said, essential for success,” Hainer said.


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