Wise Words from a Parent re: Making Readers

I thought this was a timely NYTIMES essay by a parent who is asking some of the same questions we are in 541. Here is an excerpt from his essay:

“Several years ago, just as New York’s testing program was being implemented, my twins were in seventh grade and came home with letters saying that a new reading course was being added. I was delighted to see some innovation. I assumed they’d spend the year making their way through the rich selection of middle school and young adult novels and nonfiction books out there. Not until back-to-school night did I realize what was actually going on. The “reading” teacher had a stack of workbooks. They were going to be reading short essays and answering questions: a full year of test prep.”

I am left asking the same old question–what don’t we get about this reading thing? I don’t think it takes a genius IQ or years in the classroom or multiple degrees after our names to get this. Why are we still engaging in this debate? We KNOW what makes readers.

Somehow we all learned to love to read and to make reading an integral part of our day to day lives.

If we did that because of worksheets, workbooks, and/or test preparation “materials,” I’d sure like to know that!! KES

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Wise Words from a Parent re: Making Readers

  1. ll123

    This father’s family reading experience is very convincing: the first teacher is your parent. He’s been doing what the school ignored during his children’s growth. He is a well-educated parent, and he knows the importance of reading to a child’s literacy, and he has made the commitment and trained his children since they were young: in the van, in bed, before breakfast, etc. I only have one question though: what about the parents who don’t have such education? They depend totally upon the school to train their kids. When school is only concentrated on test prep, then it means their children don’t get to read much in school; and what matters is that they don’t have a habit of reading either in school or at home. Posted by L. L.

  2. sofiapenna

    Dr. Stearns,

    I appreciate this section of the article that you posted for us, because it shows me that parents are paying attention. And they should pay attention and speak up, especially when our curriculum is failing our students.

    I am reminded of Atwell’s comment from The Reading Zone, “I became an English teacher because I couldn’t imagine a better job than to nurture in young people a similar passion for books” (p. 117). I, too, can’t imagine any other way to teach children how to be passionate about books than by reading them. Worksheets and workbooks can’t teach passion, and I don’t see any evidence that they teach kids how to pass state exams. -Sofia

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