Study Provides One Simple Answer
Just right books!
A recent NY Times article — in the Science section — covers a three year study that provides discounted books at Spring Book Fairs to low income families intended for summer reading. The idea is to provide a wide variety of freely available books so that parents are first, able to select books that are of interest to them, and second, willing to let their kids read about Hannah Montana if they want to rather than wade through Dickens!
Of course, this idea of “just right” books is not new. For early elementary age readers it is standard fare. And one very successful school reading program, Accelerated Reader, is built around this notion. But by late elementary stage this concept gets lost for a couple of reasons:
- It is not well understood that reading comprehension is best learned by reading age and interest appropriate material. Reading comprehension is what makes reading fun, but learning to think and read takes some effort at first and perhaps a reading program. And so having material where the content is of interest makes a real difference.
- Most parents do not know their child’s reading level and books do not come with a reading level label. So matching up is requires research. The reasons schools don’t share reading levels with parents depend on who you ask. The school will say “reading level” is a vague concept and so it is misleading to quantify it year to year so they use scales and other measures unrelated to age or grade. On the other hand, the cynic in me says it is to avoid accountability. If a teacher tells a parent that their 4th grader ended the year making less than a year’s progress then they are likely to have their methods questioned.
Gemm Learning, provider of Fast ForWord, is a big believer in just right reading. And there are free tools out there to help make sure your child is reading the right books. Here’s the link to our website: Summer Reading Help
Here is a link to the New York Times article: