Learn to read well, and a world of knowledge and thinking opens up. Reading is such a crucial skill that schools put massive energy into strategies and programs to equip children to read. Yet too often the pedagogy involves boring word drills accompanied by joyless books written around vocabulary words.
The Read Aloud nonprofit organization demonstrates studies that a parent or adult caretaker reading even 15 minutes daily to a child massively increases that child’s academic success potential. Reading in the home to children should begin at birth and continue into at least middle school.
In 2002 Congress passed the “No Child Left Behind” legislation that essentially graded teachers and schools on how well their students performed on annual tests. This launched the “teach for the test” pedagogy that increased the joylessness of reading. Test scores did not improve.
Schools would do well to model what works well in families who read well. That is, find interesting materials for children to read, engage in dialogue with the children on the materials, use props, impromptu dramas, field trips, and crafts to bring joy and creativity to the reading experience. Test scores will do well, but most importantly, children will become competent, avid, lifelong readers, and they and all of society will benefit.
Deloris Fowler, an experienced teacher, tells of her experiences over the years as fad after fad came and went on teaching children to read. Her preferred method has circled back. In an Atlantic Magazine article, “How to Show Kids the Joy of Reading,” Fowler offers her wise, effective advice.