I came from a family of readers. We moved often, and the movers often groaned about the number of boxes of books they carried from one residence to the other. As I grew older, I had a hard time understanding people who didn’t read. How on earth did they live without all those lovely stories.
This, of course, was before the age of three or four televisions in a house, computers, tablets, and iPhones. And yet, I still believe people who aren’t lifelong readers are missing something.
In one of my early careers, before I had children of my own, I was an English teacher for junior high students. It’s almost a little late then to help pre-teens cross the bridge between a lifetime of always being a bit behind to a wealth of possibilities. Even if someone is a non-reader of books, it’s difficult to get through life when reading is handicapped.
According to Begin to Read:
2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently
by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
That is an incredible statistic. Think of all the good we could do if every one of us worked to help children learn to read–even better yet–love to read.
There are many ways to reach out to children beyond your own. Volunteering to work in a school is one way. Good teachers with 20 children in a classroom have a tough time teaching to several levels of ability at the same time–especially during those early, squirrelly years. A parent who comes in to help on a regular basis can make the difference so the child gets what he or she needs.
Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Foster Grandparents, and religious organizations all have ways to reach out to a kid, snuggle them on a lap, and engage them in the love of reading. You don’t have to be an expert. A rudimentary understanding of phonics and developing understanding from context, will help. Discuss things you read with children, help them read in different formats (magazines, short stories, non-fiction, fiction)–choices abound!)
Did you know the U.S. literacy rate hasn’t really changed in the last ten years? According to a 2014 Huffington Post article, “14 percent of the population. 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read.”
We can all do something to change this statistic. Let’s start today.