A good book soothes the soul at the end of a long day, on a quiet afternoon dedicated to a paperback and a comfy chair and throughout the years of formal education.

Reading doesn't stop only at books; pick up a newspaper, a magazine or a collection of short stories and poems and see where the words and events take you.

Reading helps us stay up to date on current events. We use it to communicate through science lab reports and English assignments and for leisurely strolls through a bookstore, thumbing through a world of fascinating covers and genres waiting to be selected for our reading pleasure.

Reading is also one of the most significant fundamentals that we learn as young children. And, it stays with us much in our adult lives.

We start by scribbling out a letter that might resemble the one that matches the start of our first names. The progression continues to spell out entire words and simple, fun tidbits like mom, dad, good, bad, cat and dog.

The magical moment that occurs when a child starts reading out loud is priceless. It opens their world up to so many new understandings and options.

Reading is also an activity that doesn't cost much. The West Yellowstone School students have access to many literary works at the school library and members of the community can stop by and explore the shelves at the West Yellowstone Public Library.

Reading does however take effort and goal-setting to achieve for some youngsters and people struggle with language arts throughout their entire lives. The beauty of that goal for a few people is that they are trying and they are learning and they want to get it. They want to read.

We have a great lineup of teachers, aides and dedicated parents and friends in the community that have helped plant the seed to get our local kids geared up for reading a good book and working eagerly through their homework assignments. Testing reading skills is another aspect of the subject that West Yellowstone School superintendent Lael Calton is very familiar with.

Calton has kept school board trustees, the school community and the public informed with how our local kids are doing with reading. As a matter of fact, they're performing wonderfully.

She proudly pointed out that students in the West Yellowstone School District saw an eight percent increase from last year for proficiency in reading and an overall achievement of 93 percent for District Proficiency, which she additionally credits to be above the 84.4 percent target set by the Office of Public Instruction for the Montana Comprehensive Assessment System Criterion Reference Tests.

She mentions more about the progress with our students in her column this week, so please read on.

Reading might be a lot of work sometimes, but it sure can be a lot of fun too.