LETTER: Reading helps with literacy and life-success

Ponoka News’ reader speaks to reading and its impact on literacy in students.

Dear Editor,

This year at PSC (Ponoka Secondary Campus) we embarked on a journey that we have never done before, searching for how we, a Jr/Sr high school, inspire students at this age to want to read?

As teachers, we did what teachers do, we looked at literacy and researched best practices, then looked at how to implement specific strategies that help kids. It has been a journey that has informed our teaching and allowed us to try a variety of different strategies so kids can better learn how to comprehend text.

In the past we believed that as students move through their schooling, it was the responsibility of the primary or elementary levels to teach the foundational skills for literacy, and when they get to us, it was our job to use those skills to apply to higher learning. Essentially — they learn to read in elementary, but in Jr/Sr high we read to learn. And in the end they write high stakes departmental exams that depend on those literacy skills. It is important to note that those exams are as much about understanding the text as they are about having the curriculum knowledge.

Students need to learn how to dissect words they do not know, share thoughts and ideas, formulate opinions based on a variety of information and background knowledge.

After a year of our staff reading books on literacy, collaborating and studying the effects of one strategy or another, I am left with one simple fact.

All the strategies in the world do not replace a parents’ need to read to their child and encourage reading right through life. From the minute children are born we must read to them and read with passion, to evoke thoughts and ideas. It is a parents’ responsibility to inspire a thirst for knowledge. To encourage imagination and curiosity. To show our children that reading is a powerful tool in discovering the knowledge to quench their curiosity.

As we progress and get older, we must discuss what kids are reading, we must encourage putting the cell phone away and picking up a book on a daily basis. The goal is simply to get kids reading, not because they have to but because they want to.

Kids and adults who read are more successful in life, they have a greater understanding of the world around them and without question they do better in school. This is not “the latest fad”, but a prerequisite to life. If you truly want what’s best for your child, then prove it by taking 15 minutes every day to read with your children. And if you’ve seen McDonald’s recent ads, even they are encouraging literacy by giving the choice of a book or toy with their Happy Meals.

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” Richard Steele

Have a great summer.

Ian Rawlinson