Aiden is seven years old, and at the beginning of the school year last fall his family was worried about his reading. Now, because of his teacher’s expertise in literacy, Aiden is excited to read – especially books about Star Wars.

Since we’ve made literacy a primary focus as part of “Changing Results for Young Readers”, there are a lot of stories like Aiden’s.

We launched the initiative to increase the number of kids who are engaged, successful readers. Teachers are using strategies such as having a resource teacher work with the classroom teacher, to co-plan and co-teach students together.

They’re paying special attention to what sparks a child’s interest and ensuring children have choices in selecting books. These are key aspects to increasing literacy. Like us, children are more likely to read, write and discuss the things they are passionate about. We are fortunate to have a strong education system as well as parents and teachers who foster reading-friendly homes and classrooms. Because of this, we have a strong foundation to build upon.

B.C.’s Grade 4 students are among the world’s top readers at their grade level, according to the international PIRLS report released last December. As well, nearly 80,000 British Columbian children and teens participate in reading club programs offered by public libraries each year.

These are successes we are extremely proud of. Strong literacy skills are connected to better jobs, higher incomes and safer communities. Now more than ever, all students need to have strong literacy skills to reach their potential, but there are still some who struggle.

Our goal is to ensure 100 per cent of B.C. students are literate by the time they’re in Grade 4. To support Changing Results for Young Readers and other literacy strategies, we’ve dedicated $10.7 million in funding to support early reading in every district. We’re focusing on students in their early stages of literacy and tracking their progress to find out what’s working and where we need to improve.

Maureen Dockendorf, a highly respected B.C. educator, has taken on the role of superintendent of reading and is overseeing the Changing Results for Young Readers initiative. Six hundred B.C. teachers in 66 early reading teams, in almost every school district, are using the most current research to help create an understanding of what builds reading success and how that can be applied in the classroom.

They are tracking the reading progress of 9,000 students over one year, documenting different literacy strategies as well as sharing teaching techniques and the stories of their most vulnerable readers. The next step is to compile, analyze and use this vital information to help current teachers and teachers in training on effective ways to teach reading.

When I hear about kids like Aiden – someone who once struggled with literacy, but now volunteers to read out loud to his classmates – I know we’re on the right path.

By Don McRae, Minister of Education