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Kid Lit Festival celebrates literacy with authors, combats declining test scores

Posted at 4:29 PM, May 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-07 11:11:29-04

Billings Public Library hosted Sue Lawrence, author of Montana's Memory Day, to begin its third annual Rocky Mountain Kid Lit Festival on Monday.

“Kids don’t care so much what you read to them, as much that you read with them," said Lawrence, who read her book to about 10 kids. "They realize that you care.”

This comes amid a trending decline in English, math, and science comprehension scores across the country.

“Several times a day I see children wanting to play with their parents, wanting to be read to, in the library, and their parents are down in their phone," said Allynne Ellis, an organizer and children's librarian with Billings Public Library.

It was reported that only 45% of Montana's kids, grades three through eight, tested proficient in math and English last year.

“When you sit down and read with your child, not only do you show them that reading is important, but you have that moment of bonding with your child," said Ellis.

Only 53% of high school students were reported as proficient in math and English in Montana last year.

“Literacy sets the groundwork for success in every subject in school," said Precious McKenzie, a former professor of Lawrence.

Toja Ellison, a mother of two, said the key difference between entertainment in literature and entertainment found on screens is the ability to exercise one's imagination.