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It's easy to think of reading as a time-consuming process that results in finishing a book. However, reading is a much larger part of life than many initially realize. We count on people to read road signs, so everyone gets home safe. We read text messages and use caller ID when we communicate with each other. We read articles and news headlines to keep us informed and educated. Reading has a profound impact on the day-to-day lives of people, yet in Montana, 8.8% of the population is considered illiterate according to a Community Health Partners article entitled "Illiteracy and How it Impacts Montanans' Health." The article goes on to explain that people who are classified as illiterate at more like to forgo preventative care, which leads to an increased risk of hospitalization.

The easiest way to increase literacy is by ensuring that children don't fall behind. One way that the Moving Mountains Foundation helps make sure that this doesn't happen is by hosting an annual literacy camp. The week-long camp offers children a safe environment to strengthen their reading comprehension. Children who attend the camp use worksheets and activity-based learning to help them practice their reading in the summer when reading might not be a primary focus. The camp takes place every June so be on the lookout for future dates.

For families who would like to help strengthen their child's reading a great way to do this is by reading aloud to your child daily. Children's books can be expensive, so if your child is under the age of five, they can be signed up for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, a program that provides children with one free book a month until they turn five. Additionally, many local libraries offer free library cards that allow parents to check out books frequently and oftentimes offer numerous children-focused events. Here is a list of upcoming events at the Missoula Public Library.

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