When the State of Arizona projects how many prison beds it will need, it factors in the number of kids who read well in fourth grade (Arizona Republic (9-15-2004)). Sorry to say, the evidence tells us that children who do not read by third grade often fail to catch up and are more likely to drop out of school, take drugs, or go to prison.
In fact, there are so many nonreaders winding up in jail in Arizona,
that Arizona officials have now found they can use the rate of illiteracy
to help calculate future prison needs.
This is because the Department of Justice states, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” Over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.
How does all this happen?
A pattern develops early on for children who do not learn to read by the end of 3rd grade.
Children who cannot read:
a) often become disruptive in the classroom
b) find it difficult to focus on their studies
c) many times choose other children who cannot read as their friends
d) find excuses not to attend school at all.
So is it only the folks in Arizona who know the link between illiteracy and youth imprisonment? Sadly, no! Michigan educators know it, too. Did you know that according to the Michigan Department of Education, half of all the adolescents and young adults with criminal records have reading difficulties?
This truly is tragic! It means that half of the young people locked up today as criminals started out in elementary school struggling in reading. I have to wonder exactly where their bad behavior problems started – was it shortly after they realized they couldn’t read or was it during the whole learning-to-read process?
The bottom line is this:
60% of Urban children in the U.S. do not graduate from High School.
40% of those children who do graduate only read at a 4th grade level.
I mean, let’s face it, reading serves as the major foundational skill for all school-based learning. If a child can’t read, he’s not going to learn much in school, and that reading handicap is an absolute set-up to entice a child to hang out with the wrong friends.
So is it just Arizona and Michigan students who have the problem? In other words, is it just the Arizona and Michigan Departments of Education that know about this reading disaster?
Your child’s doctor most likely is also aware of the problem. Pediatricians all across America know about it. In fact, the reading struggles of our children present such a grave problem that the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that doctors prescribe reading activities along with other advice given to parents at their child’s regular check-ups. Moreover, many of America’s doctors now believe that a child who has never held a book or listened to a story is not “a fully healthy child.”
Well, if our doctors think that just holding a book or listening to a book represents a healthy child, how much more healthy if the child could actually READ the book?
O.K., so we’ve heard from Arizona and Michigan educators, and we’ve heard from those who compile urban school children literacy statistics, and we’ve heard from America’s doctors. Who else knows about this perilous problem? (I say perilous because – well – half of all the adolescents and young adults in our nation’s prisons began their lives NOT learning to read).
It just so happens that America’s book publishers for children are also aware of this reading catastrophe. In an article printed by Personalized Children’s Books & Music, they tell us clearly that “Difficulty with reading does not just affect your child’s ability in school, but carries over as low self-esteem into every aspect of life. Surveys of adolescents and young adults with criminal records show that about half have reading difficulties.”
So why isn’t somebody doing something about this reading tragedy?
Believe me, something is being done, but it’s hard to hear the solution voices over all the noise being made by those voices that are dodging our concerns.
For example, if you would like to see a sampling of the overwhelming voices that are misdirecting our questions, I dare you to Google this question: “Why do children struggle in reading?” Go ahead, do it! You’ll find all kinds of webpages explaining to us why children with learning disabilities cannot read, but you won’t find much of anything about why all the other children WITHOUT learning disabilities cannot read.
In your Google search, you’ll hear all about dyslexia, and learning disabilities, and hearing problems, and vision problems, and speech problems, and how children have so many difficulties in listening or speaking or writing or reasoning that they just can’t learn to read. The problem is that these explanations do not concern any of the 4 out of 10 American children WITHOUT learning disabilities, those 40% of all children who are currently in the fourth grade who cannot read at grade level.
Instead, whenever reading struggles are mentioned we get bombarded with webpages that talk about children with learning disabilities instead of all those children without learning disabilities who, for some strange reason, cannot read.
Those Google searches would have us believe that the MAIN reason that children struggle in reading is because they have a learning disability.
So what’s going on with the other 40% of these learning disabled children; why aren’t they learning how to read? Furthermore, what’s going on with the 4 out of 10 children – the 95% of children WITHOUT any learning disability – why can’t they read? Why are all of THOSE children NOT showing up in the Google searches for “Why do children struggle in reading?”
Ever get the feeling that our questions are being avoided? That’s because they are. Instead of hearing factual answers as to why our children aren’t learning to read, we’re hearing things like: “Learning to read is difficult because it is a multifaceted experience” and “Learning to read with phonics doesn’t teach our children to read for meaning.”
Here’s what I have to say about all of that – bologna!
your children CAN learn to read
if they’re given an affordable, step-by-step,
systematic phonics-based curriculum.
I have good news!
For less than $10 you can purchase an INSTANT DOWNLOAD of a step-by-step systematic phonics COMPLETE curriculum that includes all of the following:
100 Daily, Step-by-step Phonics Lessons that teach every phonogram you child will every need to learn in order to sound out every word on every page
20 Sequenced Phonics Story Readers With Real Story Content
Rhyming Alphabet Phonics Charts
Multisensory Vowel Helps
Continuous Phonics Drill and Review
Rhyming Phonics Flashcards
Rhyming Lifetime Phonics Charts that enable children to remember all the sounds they’ve learned for the rest of their lives.
Free Email Support For As Long As You Need It!
Sound too good to be true? It’s not! Unlike those Google searches, we are hitting the nail on the head and giving children everything they need to learn to read every word on every page.
Carol Kay, President
Candy 4WAY Phonics
children who struggle to read, illiteracy leads to crime, Why our children can't read
Reading for Meaning?
do we mean
Reading for meaning begins when a child develops the skills to fluently sound out every word on every page. For most children, this requires systematic training in phonics.
After children develop the capability to read all the words on the page, they must then develop the ability to see and answer the basic Who? What? When? and Where? questions posed by the text. However, this is not where reading for meaning ends. In fact, this is where reading for meaning begins.
Some at our federal educational level feel that testing children frequently will help them develop better reading and comprehension skills. However, tests simply reveal what students have failed to learn and what teachers have failed to teach; tests do not give teachers the skills they need to correct those failures. Tests do no good unless a child’s Individualized Education Program includes the correct reading/discussion strategies specifically aimed at developing inferential thinking abilities.
Others believe that developing long vocabulary lists will help children to better connect with the meaning on the page. It’s true, better vocabulary skills definitely will help children to understand what they read, but “connecting” with the text – well – that’s a whole different story.
What do we mean when we talk about “connecting” with the text? Connecting with the text, first of all, means that a child can personalize the meaning found in the words he reads. In othe words, he must learn to routinely determine how the material on the page personally affects him. It is this personalization, together with a student’s ability to grasp the meaning inbetween the words on the page as well as his ability to draw researched-based conclusions based upon those words that gives a child inferential thinking abilities.
To be sure, drawing inferential conclusions should be the whole goal of learning to read. In fact, research done by Marie Clay, P. David Pearson, and other educators reveal that good readers of all ages continually use what they know and have experienced to thoroughly understand and apply what they hear and read. Unfortunately, very, very few of our students today have gained the skills necessary to do that.
Inferential comprehension takes place when children
go beyond the standard facts given on a page
and draw their own research-based conclusions.
Can children really learn to do this? Yes! Absolutely they can, if an adult in their lives takes the initiative to teach them. Children can learn to answer more than the basic questions written in a text; they can learn to ask and answer the “Why?” questions and to persuade others of their point of view using attestable facts, testimony, and reasoning.
Marva Collins took children that the public school system declared “learning disabled” (children who had been shuffled into the special education mainstream) and activated the inferential thinking skills hidden inside each one of them. In turn, many of Marva’s students went on to colleges such as Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. Many of those students became lawyers, doctors, engineers and educators.
In contrast, did you know that almost 4 out of every 10 students in today’s public schools are reading below the basic proficiency reading level? What’s more, as Marva Collins discovered, far too many of those students are being wrongly labeled as LD children. That’s disturbing, because a recent study revealed by the National Center for Learning Disabilities reported that 66 percent of special education students are reading three or more grade levels behind and 20 percent of them are reading five or more grade levels behind.
Try to imagine that. What’s really sad is that almost every one of those children could have learned to read correctly if given adequate, systematic, phonics-first reading instruction, and almost every one of those children could have gained inferential thinking abilities had they been connected with an instructor or a parent or a grandmother who interacted with them through reading-aloud/discussion times aimed at developing inferential comprehension skills.
Would you like to know more about what YOU can do to help that child in your life develop the proper “reading-for-meaning” skills, skills that can make the difference between his/her success now and later? Click here to read more about how you can give a child much-needed inferential thinking skills.
Carol Kay, President
Candy 4WAY Phonics
reading for meaning, teaching children reading comprehension strategies, teaching children to make inferences
The other day
I read a statement
made by a current
that talked about today’s classroom methods
for teaching our children
how to read,
and I was just grieved at the absurdity of what it said.
It indicated that young children
need to begin
their reading education
with a two-step process:
Step 1 – Learn to
sight read whole words
Step 2 – Learn to
break down those whole words
into smaller segments.
This is absurd
because it’s a backwards way
to learn to read.
I printed the statement,
I put the words and ideas
that concerned me
in blue letters.
Here’s how the complete statement read:
“ Phonological processing is one of the earliest requirements for successful reading. This is the understanding of how letters correspond to different sounds in a language, such as, how a ‘d’ sounds like “duh” and “w” sounds like “wuh.” …But this concept can be complicated for little minds to grasp. First, children have to be able to break words down into individual letters, assign the letters to sounds, and blend the sounds together to make a word. Breaking words apart into individual sounds, or phonemes, can be tough. This skill is called decoding, referring to the idea that reading is breaking a “code” of letters and sounds. Kids who have difficulty at this level of reading are often noticed in kindergarten or first grade when these skills are taught.”
Ok, so why does it bother me that this statement claims that children should start their reading education by:
First - learning to sight read whole words
Second - learning to break those whole words apart?
I am concerned because a grave number of children who learn to read in this backwards way quickly become struggling readers. They never learn to sound out words from left to right.
Moreover, these young children who struggle in reading soon grow into older children who struggle in reading.
Let’s examine more closely some of the current classroom ideas shared in the statement (ideas printed in blue) that I truly believe to be backwards methods of reading instruction in order to understand why children should not start their reading education learning to sight read and memorize “whole” words.
The following statements
printed in blue
are the current
that I believe
should concern us:
A) “this concept can be complicated for little minds to grasp. First, children have to be able to break words down into individual letters”
Why is this statement incorrect? Why are little children (“little minds”) required to break apart “whole” words to get to the smaller letters so they can “figure out” the sounds of the letters? This strategy used in American schools across this nation, this strategy of giving beginning readers whole words to memorize and break apart, is completely backwards. Little children should not start out reading “whole” words. Instead, little children should first learn the individual letter sounds that make up those whole words. After that, children should learn how to blend those sounds together to form words. Eventually, they will learn how to sound out every word on every page they encounter, sounding out each word from left to right.
B) “children have to…assign the letters to sounds”
Why is this statement incorrect? Beginning readers should not be given the task of sight reading big words and then matching the sounds they hear in those big words to the letters that represent those sounds. This is backwards. Yet this is what American public schools are doing. Our educational classroom methods are asking children to sight read big words before they have learned the sounds inside those big word and how to blend those sounds together in order to read those big words.
When little children are taught to sight read and memorize whole words without first learning to blend together all the letter sounds within those words, they are learning to read through a method called “embedded phonics.” Embedded phonics is not real phonics, and it is dangerous. Embedded phonics coupled with the sight-reading/guided reading techniques in our schools today is causing enormous numbers of children to “guess” at words. Click here to read more about the difference between explicit phonics and embedded phonics.
C) “ Breaking words apart into individual sounds, or phonemes, can be tough”
Why is this statement incorrect? It’s incorrect because it should be tough to break words apart. Of course, our classrooms have made it tough by teaching our children to sight read and memorize whole words instead of first teaching our children the individual letters and blends inside those words. It creates quite a problem for a child when he is asked to break apart a “whole” word into its individual letter sounds when he doesn’t know what those letter sounds are or what they sound like. The task before him quickly becomes nothing but a big guessing game. Learning to read should not be an overwhelming task. Learning to read is a step-by-step process of learning letter sounds. learning to blend those sounds together from left to right, so that in time, a child can sound out every word on every page.
D) “reading is breaking a “code” of letters and sounds”
Why is this statement incorrect?
Learning to read DOES NOT require children to break a code of letters and sounds.
Learning to read DOES require children to learn the code of letters and sounds.
In other words, children who are still trying to break the code of individual letter sounds within “whole” words are children who have never learned the code of letters and sounds in the first place.
E) “Kids who have difficulty at this level of reading are often noticed in kindergarten or first grade when these skills are taught.”
Why does this statement cause me grief?
It grieves me because most of these kids should not be having difficulties learning to read.
It grieves me because:
None of those children are acquiring the necessary skills to recognize the sounds represented by individual letters.
Most of those children will make up the 8 million kids who are going to reach grades 4 through 12 that are still struggling to read.
Most of those children will make up the 70% of kids who will not be reading at grade level by the time they reach the 8th grade.
None of those children will have access to the rich morsels of the English language, of their country’s history, of mathematical concepts, of current events, of literature, or of science when they enter the fourth grade that they could have had access to if they’d learned to read correctly when they were little.
So many of those children are going to mistakenly be labeled with dyslexia and other reading difficulties when, in fact, if they’d learned to sound out words correctly when they were little, they would have never struggled in reading at all.
Fortunately, it is NOT TRUE that the older a child is, the more difficult it is to teach him or her to read.
Fortunately, it is NOT TRUE that the window of opportunity to learn to read closes when a child gets older.
Fortunately, it is NOT TRUE that if a child can’t read by the end of third grade, odds are that he or she will never catch up.
Fortunately, it is NOT TRUE that children who have struggled in reading must continue dealing with a low self image.
Fortunately, it is NOT TRUE that children who have struggled in reading must continue battling with frustration, anger, and defeatism.
Children, both young and old,
who are taught to read
with a step-by-step phonics-first curriculum
do not need to face all those struggles!
Am I saying that many, many children in America
who are struggling in reading
could learn to really and truly read
– that their whole reading “problem”
could disappear completely?
You bet I am!
A good many of these children
who cannot read
can learn how to read every word on every page.
They just need to start again with a curriculum that works – a step-by-step, parent/friendly curriculum that teaches them the individual letter sounds, how to blend those letters together, and moves on to teach them, one step at a time, all the rest of the letter blends and phonograms that they will ever need to know to be able to sound out every word on every page. Older kids and children who cannot read can learn to read. They can learn to read with speed and fluency. They can learn to read so that they can begin to understand what they read.
Carol Kay, President
Candy 4WAY Phonics (a company that believes in children)
P.S. One reason I relentlessly post blogs that correctly describe a workable reading process is because families whose children struggle in reading, or families with parents who have reading difficulties themselves, often do not want to talk about their child’s reading struggles. It is my hope that by offering the Candy 4WAY Phonics blogs and by making an affordable COMPLETE curriculum available to these families, that they will no longer have a reading problem to talk about.
children who struggle with reading, how to teach an older child to read, my child can’t read, when kids can’t read