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.
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?!