Learning How to Read Just Isn’t Enough

Posted: August 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Every year around this time our schools throw open their doors to invite our kids back, to fulfill our hope they will get an education. Across the country, just under four million boys and girls will enter First Grade. If we can believe the studies and surveys, in no more than a couple years, as many as three million of those precious children will dislike books and have given up on reading. Many of these kids loved books when they were five years old, but something happened to their love of books in those first couple years at school. In the following years, their teachers will try to undo the damage to those kids’ love of books that they had when they were very little. But the damage that happened in the beginning years while they were learning to read—when those kids decided that reading is boring and gave up on it—for most kids that damage will be permanent. If we can believe the studies and surveys, in twelve years as many as one out of four of those First Graders will not graduate from high school.

Oh yes, they will learn how to read; pretty much everybody learns to read. Some a little better than others. We can look at reports that say one out of two adults didn’t read a single book last year. We can look at the AP/Ipsos polls which tell us that less than 10% read more than one book a month. But all you have to do is ask a few people if they love to read. Just look around at what people do, and that will tell you what they love. And for most people, it isn’t reading.

Is Learning How to Read Enough?
Is knowing how to exercise enough to keep us healthy, if we don’t do it? Is knowing how to read going to make me smarter, if I don’t do it? People do what they like to do, and they avoid the things they dislike. By third and fourth grade, many kids are deciding that reading is boring and they don’t like it. So they aren’t doing it. They aren’t reading their textbooks, and they aren’t learning anywhere as well as they could. If you believe that reading matters, the worst part is that one out of two may not read another book the rest of his life. What is the point to learning how to read, if a child learns to dislike it and won’t do it?

Be Careful What You Aim At. You Just Might Hit It.
By making one of our educational goals that children learn how to read, we are creating a nation of people who know how to read. Big deal. Do you really care that your child learns how to read if he won’t pick up a book after he or she graduates? If people refuse to read, where are they going to learn? From TV news or reality shows? From social media?

We can try to improve our schools. We can make laws that are somehow supposed to make our children learn better. But if we don’t change our goal to the Love of Reading, do we really think that anything else in how our kids are learning is going to change?


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