We all know our children should be reading. Non readers need a nudge and sometimes even an educational intervention to get them reading. According to the latest studies and thoughts, even your child who is a reader may need a nudge or a parental intervention to read the “right” type of stuff. In Connie Matthiessen’s article “The Nonfiction Revolution,” at the Greatschool.org website, she discusses current thought and studies that emphasize the far greater need for nonfiction reading among American students. This is partially being driven by tougher educational standards, such as the Common Core, that have been implanted in 46 of 50 states and by what educators are seeing at the college level. While students can solve math problems and analyze short stories, they are struggling with reading, analyzing, and writing about complex written material. They are struggling with comprehending complex text.
This clarion call is thematic of the Common Core Standards initiative. The standards are a response to what educators see as a paucity of reading and writing curriculum. With the Common Core and those leading the “nonfiction revolution,” educators are looking for a greater balance between fiction and non-fiction reading and writing in school; an introduction of more complex text and writing in the early grades; and developed aptitude and ability by the college years. The thought is by equipping students early, greater school and workforce success will follow.
American students are struggling with being college ready. A 2006 study cited in the article found that only half of high school students who took the ACT exam were ready for college-level reading, with numbers even lower for African-American, Hispanic, Native American, and students from low- income families. Along these same lines, current statistics find that 20 percent of students who go to four year colleges and 40 percent of student who go to community college have to take remedial courses. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP)’s 2011 National Report Card found that only one quarter of US 12th graders write at a proficient level and only three percent write at an advanced level. Students are showing up to college not college ready and this is contributing to a freshman college dropout rate of 30 percent. This is staggering! Not to forget to mention the workforce. Today’s global economy needs workers who can read, analyze, and incorporate complex text. This is an additional factor for this push. Educators are recommending schools focus on informational texts earlier and teach the fundamentals of non-fiction writing earlier, as well.
A parent might ask what they can do to promote greater non-fiction reading. The author has several great ideas that range from allowing them to pursue their passions in nonfiction books and providing them lots of great nonfiction reading material to giving them further reasons to write(letters to grandparents, keeping a journal, etc) and making connections between what they are reading and current events. Like everything else as a parent, we can help propel them up or maintain a status quo that isn’t working. I vote for up…but let’s not forget the creativity and independent thinking that good fiction reading and writing can also bring. Even history is written from an individual’s perspective…a perspective that is human.