54% of African American fourth graders read below grade level. – National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2007 Reading AssessmentMy mother reads a lot. I think she can actually sleep in a twin bed because one-half of her queen-sized bed is always full of books, magazines and newspapers. Because I followed her example, naturally I'm a reader. There's no way I could have grown into a writer without being a good reader first. People harp on the importance of math and science, but reading and writing skills are equally important. I admit I don’t love math but I can pull out a calculator or ten fingers and get by. There’s no calculator for reading and writing.
Lack of income or education is no excuse for our children to lack basic reading skills. Slaves risked severe punishment if caught learning to read. Reading for slaves meant knowledge and freedom. Slave masters knew that a literate slave was a dangerous slave. Because too many of us lack knowledge of our history and the struggles of those before us, we take the freedom of reading for granted.
Studies of individual families show that what they do to support literacy in the home is more important to student success than family income or education (Ballen & Moles, 1994).Today even the media are too lazy to do their own research. That’s why this fiasco between Shirley Sherrod and the United States Department of Agriculture went down. No one bothered to research whether she was guilty of the words she was accused. Journalists with years of experience and a whole lot of “should’ve known damn better because they learned this crap in Journalism 101” took the words of one and ran with it. A little research would’ve prevented this uproar.
If you bring a child into this world, you are responsible for putting the time into their development. Their success in the classroom is dependent on your efforts to teach them as much as possible in their formative years.
Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is the oldest and largest children's and family nonprofit literacy organization in the United States. For more information on how you can help your child with their reading skills, visit www.rif.org.