National Reading Month is celebrated each March to honor Dr. Seuss’s birthday. A variety of activities and initiatives are developed and implemented nationally to encourage, support and increase reading. The Northern Michigan University Center for Rural Health celebrated this occasion by engaging and reading with youth in our rural U.P. region.

Why Celebrate?
National Reading Month provides an opportunity to celebrate and promote the love for reading as well as to develop communication and learning skills.

2023 Project

In celebration of National Reading Month, the Northern Michigan University Center for Rural Health and students currently enrolled in the pre-dental academic track at Northern Michigan University, joined forces to read and engage with youth in an effort to increase awareness and education about proper oral hygiene. The project was sponsored by the Literacy Legacy Fund of Michigan with support from Dr. Carla Skaates (Superior Dental Care), the Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) and the Delta Dental Foundation.

The project...
1) got youth excited about reading and interacting with college students
2) provided college students an opportunity to communicate with and educate youth
3) increased youth’s awareness and knowledge about proper oral hygiene
4) encouraged youth to read at home with their parent(s)/guardian(s)
5) increased parent’s/guardian’s awareness and knowledge about proper oral hygiene and, hopefully, will
6) improve the oral hygiene of youth.

The project targeted second and third grade students at K.I. Sawyer Elementary in Gwinn, MI, Aspen Ridge Elementary in Ishpeming, MI, and Mather Elementary School in Munising, MI. Approximately 350 elementary students were served by the project. Northern Michigan University pre-dental students received training ahead of time to learn the proper way to read and engage with a young audience. Two to three NMU students visited second and third grade classrooms, read the book Curious George Visits the Dentist, engaged students in oral health trivia and demonstrated proper brushing and flossing techniques. All elementary students received a copy of the book to take home and read with their parent(s) and/or guardian(s). A label with a QR code was placed inside the cover of each book acknowledging the NMU Center for Rural Health, the Literacy Legacy Fund of Michigan, Superior Dental Care and UPHP. When the QR code is scanned, the reader is connected to a video of the book being read by NMU pre-dental student Anja Erickson. This allows a child to have someone read the book with them. Additionally, thanks to the Delta Dental Foundation, elementary students received an oral health kit consisting of a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, a timer and a toothbrush cover. 

The success of this year’s project is largely due to the collaboration and wonderful partnerships that have been established over the past year. We look forward to exploring more ideas, developing more partnerships and expanding health related efforts throughout the region in the future.


Oral Health Project Partners