City of Ukiah, California

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Reading, Writing and Moms

Mother’s day is this Sunday and I can’t think of a more important celebration, even with all that spring brings - baseball, proms, and graduation ceremonies – than recognizing the contributions our moms have made to positively impact our lives. To me, Mother’s Day is one of the most important traditions of the spring.

It is our mom who has cared for us since the beginning, been there to uphold and support us, guide and direct us, being stern when it’s needed and kissing away our bruises when they hurt.

Moms are also there to read us bedtime stories at night, help us with our homework, spend countless hours helping us learn spelling words, and quiz us to prepare for our next big test.

Our moms mean everything, and I’m glad we have a special day just to thank them for all they do to help us!

One thing I remember most from my childhood was my mom’s encouragement to read as often as I could. Like most young boys, I preferred the backyard to books, and staying out until the streetlights came on, rather than turning on my desk light for homework.

Yet, as a very young boy, my mom taught me how very important reading was. Through my mom’s gentle nudges and words of encouragement, I even began to like–just a little–reading each day.

I think we can all agree that being a good reader, and writer, is a skill we hope our children have. It is the core of our child’s education, and literacy really opens the door to promising and exciting careers.

Sometimes young people who want to get into law enforcement don’t realize how important reading and writing are for those jobs. They get their information from TV, where compelling crime dramas grab our attention with a horrific crime, then carry us along as the show’s star struggles to find and overcome the villains of the episode. Finally, just in the nick of time—right after the last commercial break—the show reveals that ah-ha moment that breaks the case wide open and the hero brings the criminal to justice. 

What those shows don’t include is the hero investigator struggling to prepare his report for court. In reality, police officers write thousands of words a day. They must accurately and effectively describe the facts of each investigation in a report. At the Ukiah Police Department (UPD), our officers can write between 5,000 and 10,000 words a day, and must–along with struggling to identify and overcome the villains of the crime–become masters of the typewriter, quickly and accurately completing a factual report of their investigation.

While many people express an interest in becoming an officer–sometimes because of the excitement and challenges the job offers–some are prevented from becoming officers because they lack the English skills necessary. In fact, before we can even interview a potential applicant for a career in law enforcement, they must first pass a complex English skills assessment test.

When people don’t pass the tests required to become an officer, they typically say that they haven’t used reading and writing skills since high school. Yet, it’s been proven we can all increase our abilities by simply reading more often.

In the book titled, The Power of Reading, author Stephen Krashen says that time for voluntary reading in school, where the pupil can make their own choice about what to read, is an effective tool to develop vocabulary and grammar and improve writing. Reading regularly can improve a person’s grammar in a way that just listening to normal speech is unable to do.

People with solid reading skills also tend to write well, according to a 2002 study by Syying Lee and Stephen Krashen called, "Predictors of Success in Writing in English as a Foreign Language."

At the Reading Is Fundamental website (, author Kathryn Perkinson says that, “…helping your children enjoy reading is one of the most important things you can do as a parent, and it's well worth the investment of your time and energy. Kids will learn reading skills in school, but often they come to associate reading with work, not pleasure. As a result, they lose their desire to read. And it is that desire—the curiosity and interest—that is the cornerstone to using reading and related skills successfully.

“By far the most effective way,” Perkinson says, ”to encourage your children to love books and reading is to read aloud to them, and the earlier you start, the better. You may be surprised to find that a well-written children's book is often as big a delight to you as it is to the kids.”

The Reading Is Fundamental website warns that as we, “approach the summer break, many are thinking about the family vacation, trips to the pool, how to keep children engaged in activities at home, the abrupt changes to everyone's schedule—and how to juggle it all. What they might not be focusing on is how much educational ground their children could lose during the three-month break from school, particularly when it comes to reading.

Experts agree that children who read during the summer gain reading skills, while those who do not often slide backward. According to the authors of a report from the National Summer Learning Association: A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year... It's common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills.”

I hope that this Sunday, everyone gets a chance to honor and thank their mom for all she has done to improve their lives. One of the greatest gifts, moms (and teachers) have given us is the power to read and write.

Reading and writing are the foundation of our children’s education, and the gateway to promising and exciting careers. Mothers and teachers everywhere have helped us achieve these accomplishments, so I say, “Thank You!”

As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: 

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Safety · Professionalism · Community Service