Read Across America Partners With Renaissance Dental to Encourage Children to Pick up a Book and a Toothbrush

Read Across America Partners With Renaissance Dental to Encourage Children to Pick up a Book and a Toothbrush

The Seuss-tastic secret behind the National Education Association's Read Across America program, which is celebrated by 45 million people annually, is that it makes reading fun for kids. For the second year, NEA will use its highly Seuss-cessful children's literacy program to raise awareness of a culpritoral health problemsthat's causing U.S. school-aged children to miss more than 51 million hours of school each year.

What's the connection between children's oral health and literacy? A recent study found that students who don't read at grade level by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers. Findings by the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC also showed students who have experienced recent oral health pain are four times more likely to have lower grade point averages than their counterparts who have not.

"Educators know that students need to come to school ready and able to learn," said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. "When kids miss school due to oral health problems, they're missing out on critical instruction time and the essential learning that takes place in the classroom."

This very real problemthe link between oral health and student achievementfacing school children, especially minority and economically disadvantaged students, is the reason behind the partnership of NEA and Renaissance Dental. Through NEA's Read Across America, three million educators are helping to deliver a very important message to students: "2 x 2 + 20 = good oral health and literacy habits." The pledge asks children to brush for two minutes, two times per day, plus read for 20 minutes each dayfor a daily total of 24 minutes, all focused on developing good oral health and reading skills.

"As a parent, I know first-hand how important it is for children to develop good habits when they're young," said Rob Mulligan, president and CEO at Renaissance Dental. "By making twice daily brushing and daily reading regular parts of a child's routine, we can start to instill good habits early on. Research tells us that oral health and reading are directly linked to the well-being and success of a child in school. This partnership provides us with a national platform extending our ability to positively impact children and parents across the nation."

The unique partnership between the nation's largest union of educators and Renaissance Dental also will provide funds for media center and state reading grants, in addition to delivering books, toothbrushes and other oral health items to students in need. The announcement comes on the eve of National Children's Dental Health Month in February, which is designed to raise awareness about the importance of oral health.

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