Reading is a vital component of being a productive member of society, but seems to be oft overlooked in favor of other pursuits. I will spare you from the enormous amount of research available, but I will hit on some of the main points that must be addressed if we want to see our local and national communities thrive.
- 3rd Grade is vital
- Stop forcing kids to read “the classics”
- 85% of children in juvenile detention are functionally low literate.
- Hopes of college can be squashed by 3rd grade.
So why is 3rd grade so important? It’s important because it has shown to be a crossroad of sorts. Curriculum tends to switch by the time fourth grade rolls around. Fourth grade can tend to focus more heavily on math. This means that students that were struggling with developing their reading skills, if they are not confident in them, will really be left behind as math is now the main focus for the next few years. It is kind of assumed that the child can now read, so let’s leave that subject and move on. The implication is that a child who is not currently at a 3rd grade reading level by the time 3rd grade rolls around, the child will have a significant disadvantage in growing in the ability.
Check out what the Reading Foundation has to say about the importance of 3rd grade literacy:
Reading is the most crucial academic skill because it is the foundation for learning. Through third grade children are learning to read; after third grade students read to learn. … In fact, one of the most important predictors of graduating from high school is reading proficiently by the end of third grade.
So, if a student is unable to read well by the third grade, imagine how hard it will be to continue to learn new topics as the child gets into upper grades. The child will be at a perpetual disadvantage with a very strong possibility of dropping out. Highschool dropouts are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested and 47-63% probability of incarceration.
There is some compelling data that states that most people that are incarcerated have a low 6th grade reading level: some studies site it as possibly even a 3rd grade level. One could conclude that a child’s life course is set by grade 3. This is both frightening and sobering.
What does all this mean?
It means that we need to meet kids where they are and to pursue them with urgency. It means that maybe we should open up to different types of literary works and stop forcing kids to read as punishment and out of obligations to the classic approach to engaging literature. Maybe we should ease up on making kids read “classic” novels that have no bearing on their current lives and interests.
There is a ton of research out there that shows the benefits of getting comics into the classroom. Kids love and need comics. If you think that kids today are too fast paced and too engaged in there games and phones to care about comics, I challenge you to put a comic in their hands, or better yet sit down and enjoy it with them.
It starts at home.
Find stories that your kids love and then READ to them from an early age. It helps to develop a love of hearing stories which can then translate in to the love of reading stories. Fill your home with book and let your kids see you reading. Share you love of comics and graphic novels with them. Lay down in the floor and read the newest issue of Batman with them. As I’ve mentioned before, get a stack of your comics and leave them in your kid’s room.
Don’t force reading and don’t make it an obligation. We want kids to see reading as fun and something that they want to do! Reward reading! Get creative with the rewards.
As part of our shop’s mission, we hope to improve the lives of kids in our area by helping them develop this vital ability. Our loyal friends that support us also support our mission because every purchase made at The HIVE helps to put comics in the hands of the kids in our school district as we donate books to schools.
Let’s work with our teachers, schools, and librarians to make some much needed changes and continue to invest in the future of our children.
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