Chris Schulz Published

Justice Highlights Literacy Awareness Day Friday

Stacks of books are seen with one open at the top of the stack. Blurred in the background are bookshelves. It looks like the photo was taken in a library.Kara/Adobe Stocks

Gov. Jim Justice is encouraging all West Virginians to reflect on the importance of early childhood literacy Friday.

In July, the governor declared Oct. 20 as National Early Childhood Literacy Awareness Day in West Virginia.

During his regular briefing Thursday, Justice called childhood literacy “absolutely essential.”

“The more you have the opportunity to read to a child at a very, very young age, do that because it will only make them better and better readers as we go forward,” Justice said. “Those folks that are great readers seem to excel in every way.” 

The proclamation Justice signed cites the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results that were published in October 2022. That test showed 78 percent of West Virginia’s public school fourth graders performed below the NAEP Proficient level in reading, compared to 68 percent nationally. 

The recently implemented Third Grade Success Act hopes to address early childhood literacy shortfalls.

“Research tells us that a child’s vocabulary at the age of three is a strong predictor of their reading proficiency in the third grade,” Justice said. “The more that we’re able to teach them to read, and read to them, the more their performance is off the chart.”

Justice also took a moment to acknowledge the work of his wife, Cathy Justice, and the Communities in Schools initiative for helping students.