Frequently Asked Questions
Studies consistently show that children who read well:
* Do better in other subjects, and in all aspects of life, both at school and beyond
* Are able to communicate better
* Have more confidence & better concentration skills
* Know how to solve problems better, and
* Are more likely to seek out and develop new ideas and become life-long learners
They are also better able to utilize technology, which means more they’re likely to:
* Get ahead in their chosen career
* Earn a higher salary
* Get a promotion or a raise
And, they are twice as likely to:
* Attend performing arts events
* Visit museums
* Attend sporting events
* Do volunteer or charity work, and
* Vote …than their non-reading counterparts.
Conversely, children who haven’t developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3-4 times more likely to drop out in later years, with all the ramifications that that might suggest.
Reading as a preferred activity has suffered a dramatic decline in the last fifty years, and there is a range of theories as to why. The most frequent indictments are, not surprisingly, leveled at the electronic media…. And given that the average American now watches 4 hours of television per day, not to mention the time spent online, it stands to reason that these alternative entertainment choices are truly culpable.
Here are some other possible reasons:
– Today’s emphasis on standardized testing means there are days, weeks, and even months of school time being allocated to “test preparation” and lost to meaningful, creative learning
– Budget cuts imposed upon arts-based programs in the public school system
My own view is that the main reason our kids move away from reading as a preferred activity is because of their subconscious association, often unwittingly learned at school and reinforced at home, between reading and “chore.” Our early associations with reading are warm and fuzzy – then we go to school. There, a subtle shift takes place in the psychic balance. More and more, the act of reading becomes associated with boredom, pressure, even struggle – and less and less with joy. Raising Bookworms is about reversing that trend.
A child may learn to read and write at school – and he or she may even grow to be proficient at it. But research shows that by far the greatest influences on a child’s reading abilities and interest are those at home. Teachers may teach children how to read; parents and caregivers are the ones who teach a child to love reading.
This is a huge subject, and every situation has its own unique set of issues and attendant recommendations. Children with learning disabilities often find the struggle to read (or simply to concentrate) enormously frustrating – and for this reason, the philosophy and strategies set forth in this book may be even more important.
The good news is that reading can be enjoyed, and comprehension skills and strategies can be learned, even by individuals with extreme learning disabilities. They key lies in a multilayered approach that incorporates teachers, therapists and parents.
Raising Bookworms addresses this subject in much greater detail in the “Special Situations and Frequently Asked Questions” section.
Not all children learn to read at the same time, but there are certain milestones that can help you gauge how well your child is doing compared with others his or her age.
The main thing is, if you suspect a difficulty, don’t hesitate to take action. Although it’s never too late to help, problems are best addressed when caught at a young age.
Talk to your child’s teacher and consider having him tested for hearing problems, learning disabilities, or a psycho-educational assessment, which will help determine the exact nature his difficulties. Some children end up being diagnosed with a learning disability, but there is an even larger group who never receive a diagnosis but who nonetheless need targeted assistance to learn and read well. If your child attends a private or parochial school, you can request that your local public school do an assessment (for which there is no charge), or you can hire a licensed professional to do so.
Once the exact nature of the problem has been identified, you can work with your child’s teacher or assessor to determine which of the many different reading support programs available is best for your child.
Having said all that, I want to make a final but important point. It’s not unusual for parents to become nearly obsessive in their efforts to manage their child’s development. Learning to read is hard, even for children with no learning issues whatsoever. Try to balance your ambitions for your child with plenty of patience and support, and remember that the key lies first and foremost in underscoring the connection between reading and joy.
A good reading program addresses the specific needs of each individual child, balances fun and creativity with learning and presents information in a way that is most beneficial to the child’s own unique learning style. There is no one perfect method for teaching reading, and no one method works for everyone.
The most important thing is that parents, teachers, and other professionals begin talking and strategizing how they can work together to help an individual child overcome or cope with his or her reading difficulties.