The read-aloud approach to literacy is a simple but often overlooked tool to entice even the most stubbornly reluctant readers to develop a love for books and reading, even into later elementary grades, veteran teacher Christie Rodgers writes for Edutopia.
Only one in three students are proficient in reading, and the activity gives students an opportunity to hear an adult model reading skills through a daily commitment to the activity that can motivate them to enjoy taking time to read for pleasure rather than thinking of it as a routine learning task, she writes.
In her class, Rodgers supports student choice by allowing them to nominate books they find interesting. Teachers can also select literature that reflects hardships the students may be facing, such as difficulties presented by the pandemic.
Many education experts and school leaders consider literacy to be the cornerstone of the foundation for academic success. Before students learn history, math and science, they must first be able to read. Research shows those proficient at reading by 3rd grade are four times more likely to graduate than those who aren’t.
In order to inspire a love of reading, students need access to books. Impoverished areas often serve as book deserts, lacking libraries and bookstores, which hinders the ability of local families to build literacy skills. According to the End Book Deserts campaign, 45% of U.S. children live in such neighborhoods. The organization says 32.4 million children lack access to books.
As COVID-19 shut down schools last spring and cut students off from school libraries, advocates in communities nationwide also made sure students had books for summer reading as a means of staving off the effects of the “COVID slide.” For example, Nina Livingston, the library media specialist at North Shore Middle School on Long Island, distributed hardcover books to the school’s 600 students.
Educators often focus on phonics-based reading instruction, but some education advocates and experts argue that's not always the best approach, and that an overemphasis on phonics can be detrimental to English learners, for instance, by producing students who master word pronunciation but don’t comprehend what they are reading.
In 2019, Colorado state legislators required schools to use science-based literacy curriculum, such as phonics-based reading instruction. Researchers who study EL education warn this technique does not necessarily meet the needs of these students.