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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Literacy - Let's get Serious

I'm always reading about alarming numbers when it comes to American literacy. Here's one I found from NPR dated December 3rd of last year:

The US ranks 20th, among developed countries, in Reading.

Whoa, wait! 20th? Really? Yep! 20th. And we do even worse when it comes to Math and Science scores. We...have a problem. Period!

While some of us may want to blame our schools, our teachers, our boards, our administration, even our President - it's much simpler than that. Just take a good look in the mirror people and you'll find one of the biggest culprits in this problem.

Studies show that 38% of our 4th Graders, read below the most basic level of comprehension

The above shocking stat is in a report from a NAE program (part of the US Department of Education). I'm stunned by that number. Really. But, I have to remember, we are a family of readers. Even the slowest reader in my immediate family can polish off 100 pages a night when they are interested. But still, what's happening to our children?

Another study/report gave me an even greater shock...Are you ready for this?

Approximately 19% of our High School Graduates are Illiterate

This same study reports that 21% of our 5th graders read below a 5th grade level. It's said there are 32 million Americans Adults who cannot read. This fact really took my breath away. Because I'm not sure I know anyone, not a single person, who can't read. Yet, if you are to believe what we're told (and I've warned you about that) 14% of adults in this country are illiterate.

So how do WE solve this Problem?

From what I've been able to glean from hours and hours of research, the solution is much simpler than it seems. The remedy begins at home; with our youngest citizens. Read to your babies, read to your preschool children, encourage reading with your grade school children.

When introduced at an early age, reading becomes something children enjoy and look forward to. My three-year-old granddaughter loves being read to. Simple books, with large words, and colorful pics. Short stories; maybe ten pages in total. Read two or three small books a night and your toddler will love literature for the rest of their lives.

When your children are infants, read to them daily. Even as little as two or three minutes a day makes a huge difference. When children are able to read on their own, encourage silent reading time of 15 or 20 minutes each night. My oldest son and his wife encourage my grandson to read every night...even during the summer.It's a great past-time and reading leads to better overall scores in other areas as well.

Read, read and read some more. I personally read an hour or two every night. Sometimes a lot longer. Makes for a tired author and worker in the morning, but you know how that goes - sometimes you just can't put a good book down.

Here's one last sobering stat before I let you go. You'll see the correlation I trust:

Among Prison Inmates - 63% are illiterate!

Read people - read!  And read to your children - tonight!

Next week we tackle bullying. Until then, all my best to every reader of this blog.