You and the gift of reading


Here’s a quick request: could YOU please spend five minutes considering how to give a youngster the gift of reading? Yes, you – regardless of whether you are a parent, grandparent, whether you have students in school now, or never have had youngsters in school.

Could you, and/or some organization you belong to help at least one youngster in community learn to read in the coming year?

Is this your responsibility, if you are not a parent? Probably not. But is it in your self interest? Yes, absolutely.

Last week I wrote about a new national report showing the percentage of students with strong reading skills is declining. Summarizing the report, Dania Gioia, Chairman of the federally (i.e. taxpayer) funded National Endowment for the Humanities wrote:

“There is a general decline in reading among teenage and adult Americans. Most alarming, both reading ability and the habit of regular reading have greatly declined among college graduates. The declines have demonstrable social, economic, cultural, and civic implications. Across a vast array of groups, reading skills are declining. “

This week brings a new international report about 4th grade reading skills of American youngsters – compared to 4th graders in more than 30 other countries. The study compared reading skills in 2001 and 2006. In 2001, only three countries were ahead of US fourth graders. Now we trail 10 countries or jurisdictions, including Hong Kong and three Canadian provinces.

Why pick fourth graders? Because, as the report’s authors explained, “… fourth grade is an important transition point in children’s development as readers, because most of them should have learned to read, and are now reading to learn.”

The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement – an independent international cooperative with 49 members, did the study. They have been doing research for 50 years.

Their study also found (no surprise) that high performing 4th graders have