Talking Early Literacy for Read Across America Day
March 2nd marks National Read Across America Day, which is a day that serves to remind us of the importance of reading, especially at a young age.
Studies have also shown that students who cannot read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
And according to the 2019 Reading State Snapshot Report by The Nation’s Report Card, in 2019, only 34% of fourth-grade students demonstrated reading proficiency, which is lower than it was in 2017 (35%).
Third grade is a significant point in a child’s learning, as it marks the time when students are expected to shift from developing foundational reading skills to gaining knowledge from what they’re reading.
Students who are below proficiency level in fourth grade can struggle and fall further behind their classmates, which can put them on a path that’s difficult to undo.
How Can Educators Promote and Increase Early Literacy?
It starts with building interest, making the idea of reading fun and appealing to students.
We all know children, especially the youngest ones, are curious and have an insatiable desire to discover and learn new things and test their limits. Making reading appealing—and available—to them can tap into these desires, helping to build a lifelong love for reading.
- Classroom Library
Having a robust library of books covering all topics and spanning multiple reading levels is a great place to start.
The youngest students may need to be shown how to hold, open, and make their way through a book, and having lots of options available to them can help to grow their interest.
- Reading Out Loud
Reading aloud is also a great way to get students more involved and interested in reading.
Older students can be called upon to read passages aloud themselves—and don’t forget to stop to review challenging, unfamiliar words!
According to the US Department of Education, educators should be doing a few specific things to develop reading comprehension skills. Educators should be teaching students the basics of reading comprehension and the organizational structure of text, as well as:
- Building a supportive and engaging framework around reading for all students
- Selecting specific texts and passages that support the development of reading comprehension
- Leading focused, rich discussion about texts they read with students
Providing students with a supportive environment and the skills they need to learn to read—and enjoy reading!—can have a strong, lasting impact on early literacy.
Using Technology to Help With Early Literacy
Technology can also be very helpful here. Many apps promote reading, including by helping children improve their reading abilities and by offering free ebooks and stories.
The public library system is an incredible resource here, too. In addition to the thousands of physical books they offer (if not more than that), many have robust ebook lending systems, which is especially helpful now.
And making use of supplemental learning products can help provide students with the guided practice and reinforcement they need to become proficient readers.
Read Across America Day Resources
Do you know the various ways that reading improves the mind and body? If not, check out this infographic to learn more. (Note that reading has been shown to decrease stress by 68%!)