Early Reading Vital

Children who fail to become proficient readers by 4th grade are much less likely to become productive adults than children who are good readers by 4th grade, says a recent report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. And if America does not improve the reading standards of its children, it is unlikely to achieve future economic well-being.

The report is titled “Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters.” It says that high school dropout rates have left a pool of qualified graduates neither large enough nor skilled enough to supply the nation’s needs, and that employers struggle to find enough educated, competent, and accountable workers.

In 2009, 67 percent of the nation’s 4th graders scored poorly on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading tests. Children who get to 4th grade without learning to read proficiently are more likely to have behavioral and social problems as adults.

“The bottom line is that if we don’t get dramatically more children on track as proficient readers, the United States will lose a growing and essential proportion of its human capital to poverty,” the report says, “and the price will be paid not only by individual children and families, but by the entire country,” because the United States is slipping behind other nations in reading proficiency.

On national tables, Minnesota scores fourth highest in the NAEP scale equivalents for 4th-grade reading standards, but that’s no cause for complacency. To become good readers, children need to be given the opportunity and motivation to read when they are young:

Summer Reading Program
Several studies have shown that participation in library Summer Reading Programs help children maintain or improve their reading skills over the summer break better than those who do not. Great River Regional Library's Summer Reading Program runs June 14 - August 14; registration begins June 14. Parents and children ages 0-18 can register at any GRRL branch library.

Library staff are knowledgeable about using five essential components of reading instruction to help young children become interested in letters, books and reading. They build those components into library storytimes:
Print Motivation: being interested in books
Phonological Awareness: being able to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words
Vocabulary: knowing the names of things
Narrative Skills: being able to describe things and events and tell stories
Print Awareness: knowing how to handle a book and follow the words on a page
Letter Knowledge: knowing the sounds and names of letters and recognizing letters everywhere

Books, Books, and More Books
Your GRRL branch library has children’s books for all ages and abilities, from board books to picture books to chapter books: books about princesses and cowgirls, detective dogs, and magic tree houses, to sports and science sleuthing. There’s not just something for everybody, there are lots of things for everybody! Bring your children or grandchildren to the library, and let them explore the collection and take home books that interest them. Adults can also take home books to read to and with children, books you know they’ll enjoy and that introduce them to new ideas. Make reading fun!

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