One in twenty kids has never read a book - at least according to this survey.
My immediate reaction (besides genuine shock): blame the parents. My second immediate reaction: blame the schools. I'm sorry, but how hard can it be to get kids to read regularly? Kids are sponges, at least up to a certain point. They're just waiting for life to fill them up. If reading is made exciting at school and a daily (or nearly so) occurrence in the home - then most kids will read.
IF kids see their parents reading, it is possible they may rebel against reading just to have something to rebel against, but in the end, I believe they will see reading as a matter-of-fact thing to do and they will do it. Reading will not be a strange occurrence to them. That's the ticket, I think, reading must seem a matter-of-fact thing to do. If I seem simplistic in outlook, then that's because to me, reading and the comprehension implied, should be simple facts of life.
But you have to start kids young.
It does happen that some children grow up with non-reading parents in a home with few books and yet become avid readers themselves. That was the case for me and my brother - but I think that's a rarity. And I think for us it happened because we had excellent NYC schools in the 50's and we struck gold with the sort of teachers we had. In first grade our teacher took us to the library and we all got cards. Not only did we feel special, but from then on, borrowing books to read became a natural part of growing up.
Reading is such a fundamental part of a human being's progress, in my mind at least, that I can't imagine it being otherwise. Why does literacy and education seem so undervalued in this country?
How hard can it be to show kids that reading opens up the world to them?
Here's a link to my friend Jean's blog. Book Jeannie. Jean is a school librarian and one of the most enthusiastic readers and proponents of reading for children that I know. It is a pleasure to discuss books with her.
This link to Anita Silvey's Children's Book-A Day-Almanac has many excellent recommendations.
A link to the wonderful blog, Teach With Picture Books.
Of course, these three blogs are only the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to book blogs dedicated to reading and books for children.
Note: Painting above by Norman Rockwell.