What Does The Demise of Picture Books Tell Us?

October 18, 2010 by Geoff Nixon

Reading Fundamentals Lose Favor?

An interesting article in a recent New York Times about how parents are moving their children onto chapter books at an earlier age is worrying.  It’s part of a larger trend where parents and educators are pressing forward with curricula before the reading fundamentals are set, risking a lack of interest in reading.

Americans are scratching their heads over why only 40% or so of 8th graders are proficient readers.  Part of the answer is that we are famously impatient and results oriented.  All good, except that learning and reading proficiency requires complete mastery of reading skills in sequence.

First a child should learn how to process language comfortably — phonological awareness, then learn to decode fluently, then learn literal reading comprehension, then learn to think while reading, called metacognition.

Short-circuiting any of these steps — particularly reading fluency or automaticity —  leads to an inability to master reading comprehension with metacognition in middle and high school.  Furthermore, reading proficiency requires lots of reading which will only happen if reading is fun or, at the very least, not exhausting.

Our program based on Fast ForWord software builds these cognitive skills required to make reading more natural and easy.  One of the common push-backs we get from even elementary age parents is that they are worried their child will fall behind today.  Our answer is that investment in a good foundation today will allow for much faster progress and less risk of a stumble tomorrow.

Not an easy message in today’s now-is-not-soon-enough, competitive world!

Here is a link to the article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/08/us/08picture.html?_r=1