I have always loved reading. I read to my children as they were growing up, and when they started reading on their own, I took advantage of spare time and settled in with a good book for myself. Now, I read to my granddaughters.

The tremendous social and academic benefits of reading at a young age are well-documented. Unfortunately, “summer learning loss” is also a proven reality. Students lose academic skills over the summer when they do not receive instruction from their teachers, sometimes falling three months behind the reading level they had achieved at the end of the school year. 

To help encourage reading generally, and also help motivate students to maintain academic skills throughout the summer, I decided this spring to run a reading contest over summer break. The contest is simple: students in grades 1-8 simply write down the title and number of pages for each book they read this summer. They send me the list, and after Labor Day, I will announce students from grades 1-4 and 5-8 to receive an e-reader. Though area schools have agreed to help distribute bookmarks that promote the program, this is not a school-sponsored activity. The prizes are paid for with my personal funds — not with taxpayer dollars.

Students can visit my webpage at Faris.housedems.com and find a digital entry form, or they can keep track of the books they read on the bookmarks being handed out at schools. If a student did not get a bookmark at school and would prefer to submit their list that way, they can call or email my office at (517) 373-7557 or pamfaris@house.mi.gov to have a bookmark mailed to their home.

Free Fishing Weekend

While I hope students spend some time this summer reading, I know that both kids and adults like to spend time outdoors during the season. Since 1986, the state of Michigan has hosted Free Fishing Weekend to showcase the state’s natural beauty and emphasize our world-class fisheries. This weekend — Saturday, June 10, and Sunday, June 11 — is Free Fishing Weekend. A license is not required to fish those two days, but all other fishing regulations still apply. Click here to view the state fishing guide, which includes all fishing rules and regulations.

Genesee County Parks Free Fishing Seminar

As part of Free Fishing Weekend, the Genesee County Parks Department is hosting a free fishing seminar at Buell Lake County Park’s Pavilion 1, 14098 N. Genesee Road in Clio, this Saturday, June 10, from 9-11 a.m. The Parks Department will supply bait and instruction, but they ask that attendees bring their own fishing rod. The event is open to children ages 4-17, and pre-registration is not required. For more information, contact the Genesee County Parks Department at (810) 736-7100, ext. 0.