Test your knowledge of the U.S. school system. In 2009, what percentage of U.S. students were reading at grade level at the end of fourth grade? Now, prepare to be shocked with the answer: 32%. Yes, that’s right. In 2009 the National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed that at Grade 4, 68% or two-thirds of students were reading below proficiency.
This means that our children are twice as likely to be poor readers as they are to be average or strong readers. If that statistic doesn’t scare you, then consider this one: If children are below grade level in reading at the end of third grade, then according to a recently published study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation they are FOUR times more likely to drop out of school before graduating.
Success in reading and success in school go hand-in-hand. Children learn to read in Kindergarten through third grade. They read to learn in Grades 4 and beyond. If they aren’t strong readers by the end of third grade, they are unlikely to ever catch up since little if any direct reading instruction is provided in the upper grades. As scary as these statistics are, what is really scary, sad and true is this: in the vast majority of cases, these students could be reading at grade level if only they were being given proper reading instruction. In fact, according to the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, 90-95% of children can learn to read if they are provided with systematic, multi-sensory instruction in reading.
As tempting as it is to blame our schools for this lapse in teaching reading, the truth is that would not be fair. You see, parents have a role to play as well. Parents must develop pre-literacy skills at home during the critical years for brain development (0-5). Far too many parents, however, don’t know the importance of reading to their children daily, don’t have access to books, or the time to read with their children, or may not read well themselves.
We think another factor that just may play a role is the negative first experiences many children associate with learning to read. Here’s why. Psychological research proves that the biggest persuader for all of us is our own personal experience. That’s why it doesn’t matter if you tell your kids that spinach tastes good. If they taste it and don’t like it they will believe their own taste buds over your assurances. The same is true when it comes to learning to read. It doesn’t matter if you tell children that they can learn to read if they just try. If they know they are trying, but experience only frustration from the very start because the learn-to-read books they are being asked to read are too difficult for them, they might just conclude that they can’t learn to read or that learning to read simply isn’t worth the effort. That’s why we made Budding Reader books so super simple to read.
We’re on a mission to make learning to read easier and more fun for children, especially struggling readers. We hope you’ll join us and help teach the world to read. We know you have at least one special skill to contribute. How do we know? You read this.