Monday, June 11, 2012

Scary Reading Statistics!

If you are lucky enough to have a child with a penchant for reading, I’m jealous! I’ve seen those book-toting tykes with novels that could serve as doorstops and weigh half as much as they do. They are so attached to their latest book that it becomes like an appendage.

My kids have appendages, too, but they are DSIs, iPod Touches, and other handheld gaming systems. They have achieved impressive high scores that garner respect amongst their peers, and believe me, their vocabulary is quite expansive. Someone could publish a dictionary with video game jargon. But these words will not appear on the SATs, cannot be effectively incorporated into a term paper, or used in business correspondence later in life.

Here are some quick, startling statistics that should be a wake-up call for all of us:

• Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3 - 4 times more likely to drop out in later years. (National Adult Literacy Survey, (1002) NCES, U.S. Department of Education)

• If a child is a poor reader at the end of First Grade, there is an almost 90% probability that the child will be a poor reader at the end of Fourth Grade. (The Public Library Association)

• Out-of-school reading habits of students has shown that even 15 minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year. (Anderson, Wilson, & Fielding, 1988)

• Nearly 40% of Fourth Graders have not mastered basic reading skills. It’s nearly 60% in California, and almost half of these children live with college-educated parents.(Council for Basic Education)

• When the State of Arizona projects how many prison beds it will need, it factors in the number of kids who read well in fourth grade. (Arizona Republic (9-15-2004) Advertisement by SheaHomes Inc.

Ok, so now that I’ve got your attention, what are you going to do about it? The most important piece of advice I can offer is to keep it fun! Here are some pointers that have worked for my kids:

• Leave it up to the teachers to introduce the classics like The Catcher in the Rye and Don Quixote. Your job is to get your kids excited about any kind of book, I don’t care if it’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Captain Underpants! Tap into their sense of humor and don’t worry so much about the “literary value” of a book.

• Create a special event around acquiring and reading books together. A date to the library or bookstore and lunch at the child’s favorite restaurant is a fabulous way to spend the afternoon. Cap the day off with some quiet time reading and talking about the new books.

• Remember that any reading material is good for kids, including newspapers and magazines. My son loves his subscription to Sports Illustrated Kids that I gave him for his birthday and he reads each edition cover to cover.

Teaching your children to love reading is a gift they will appreciate for the rest of their lives. Get the summer started with a gift of books from The Lollipop Book Club!

Sweet Reading! Karen Gallagher

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