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How Important is Reading?

Posted by on July 28, 2015

My teacher friends may already know these facts but I was stunned to learn them at a workshop I attended this weekend.

1. Children are learning to read in grades 1-3. After that, they read to learn. Therefore, reading fluently is important for learning.

2. Children who cannot read fluently at the end of third grade have the highest risk for criminal activity ten years later.file00057088830

3. In Texas, third grade literacy rates are used to determine how many prison cells will be needed in ten years.

Reading is important to me as a writer, but it’s always been something I love doing. Think how many things you wouldn’t be able to do if you couldn’t read. You couldn’t get a job without being able to read and fill out an application. You couldn’t take the test to get your driver’s license. You couldn’t read street signs, or store names, or shop for items that don’t have distinctive packaging.

Here’s another startling tidbit regarding video games. One study charted brain activity while children played video games. In the first 10-15 minutes, there was normal brain activity. But the longer they played, the less active the brain became until at 45 minutes, the screen was black, signifying no brain activity. Even for educational video games! 

This workshop opened my eyes to the dire need to teach children, especially disadvantaged children, to read. If you have children in your home, or if you have contact with children, I encourage you to turn off the video games, the computer games, the senseless television shows and put a book in your child’s hands. Require ten, fifteen or thirty minutes of reading every day. Better yet, sit down and read a book with them. What better way to spend some quality time with your children? Help a child to read fluently, and you just might keep them out of jail.

Now, isn’t that an inspiring idea?!

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6 Responses to How Important is Reading?

  1. Peggy Wirgau

    Great information, Mary. I’m so glad to have had a family that read books to me and that we read books, newspapers, and magazines to and with our kids. Their interests in subject matter fluctuated through the years, but they’ve remained strong readers.

    • Mary Hamilton

      I was blessed with the same kind of family, Peggy. My mom always told of my dad reading the Sunday comics to us from a very young age. Maybe that’s why the comics are the first page I turn to!

  2. debgarland

    As a reading specialist, my job was to work with students who struggled with fluency and comprehension. Some of them had disabilities, others weren’t given encouragement to read in the home. Both struggled to learn new material through the written word, but both can be helped. Thanks, Mary, for encouraging literacy! I was interested to hear about the correlation between the length of video games played and brain activity. I suspect that this fact applies to all ages, so write on and read on everyone!

    • Mary Hamilton

      We also heard some very encouraging stories of students who were helped to read better. It changed their whole outlook and self-image when they no longer felt “dumb.”

  3. Stacey Zink

    Very interesting! I’ve never heard about the state using 3rd grade literacy tests to determine prison statistics. Fascinating post. Thanks for sharing.

I welcome your thoughts on this.