Feature Article – Reading is Key by
Educational Helps – by Laurie Detweiler
Reading is Key
A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at Dominion Classical Christian Academy, Atlanta. They asked me to talk on the importance of reading. In one sense it might seem silly to speak on such a topic—everyone knows the importance of reading. In another sense, we are part of a culture and society that doesn’t’ value reading nearly as much as our ancestors did.
It was not an easy topic for me to speak on either. In fact, Laurie gave me one of those looks that only a wife can give her husband when she found out the topic on which I was to speak. You know, the look that says, “You’ve got to be kidding.” She’s the real reader in our family. It’s not that I don’t read. I read a lot. I just don’t choose to do it for enjoyment with my leisure time the way many well-read folks do. I wish I enjoyed reading more. So, I got to thinking about it in preparation and learned some things I thought worth sharing here.
It seems that readers generally fall into two
categories—slow and fast. Slow readers, of which I am one, are good technical
readers. They comprehend details well.
Yet, fast or slow, reading is falling on hard times, and we ought to be concerned. The National Endowment for the Arts did a study entitled, “To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence.” In it they found:
● Only 30% of 13-year-olds read for pleasure on a regular basis
● The average American between the ages of 15 and 24 spends only seven minutes a day reading and half never read for pleasure
● 38% of employers find high school graduates deficient in reading comprehension
● Corporate employers spend $3.1 billion for remedial courses; state employers spend $221 million annually
In other words, fast or slow, pleasure or technical,
(and yes, I’m assuming no normal person
reads leases or contracts or owner’s manuals for pleasure) reading is
important, necessary and not taught or inculcated as it should be.
Consequently, we must train our children to read
well and inculcate a love of reading in them. Teaching them to read well is not
hard. A good phonics program is the significant ingredient. I’m partial to the
I have many fond memories of visits to Douglas Wilson’s home. But one of my fondest was when, having finished dinner, his upper teenage children suggested he read to us from Patrick McManus’s book entitled They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They? McManus is known for his outdoor humor. While the details might not be exactly right, I remember a scene that included a deer that was being hunted that ended up riding a bicycle out of control down a steep mountain road. I expect the Wilsons had read the book several times. Yet, to share their family’s routine experience of reading out loud together was a real treat. Even more so was the deep belly laughter that got in Doug’s way as he tried to keep reading the scene as it developed.
I learned something that night. I learned that reading to your children was very, very important. And that’s not all. I learned that it didn’t need to stop (in fact shouldn’t stop) when the kids got a bit older.
My father was an accountant. He was a slow technical reader. However, I have very fond memories of similar interaction, but with numbers. For the fun of it, he taught me long multiplication and division at a very young age. I loved it, and I still love numbers.
So, is it nature or nurture that made Doug’s kids love reading and me to love math problems in a similar way? The answer is probably that it is some of both. And to the extent that we can contribute to the delight and wonder that God has given our children, we must do our part. Start the habit of reading to them when they are young. Keep it up when they are older. You’ll be amazed at the scope of the benefits.
many of us there are fond memories of summer reading contests, where you could
win a prize for doing something that you already loved.
summer Veritas Press is sponsoring a reading contest. It begins immediately and
Veritas Press Reading Contest Rules
1. Reading Quantity
a. K – 2nd Grade: 40 Easy Readers (ex., Frog and Toad are Friends)
b. 3rd & 4th Grades: 25 books at least 125 pages (ex., The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
& 6th Grades: 25 books at least 150 pages (ex.,
d. 7th – 12th Grades: 25 books at least 200 pages (ex., The Fellowship of the Ring)
2. Entries must be submitted
by 5:00 PM
3. The first 250 submissions in each age division will be given a $10 gift certificate.
4. A drawing will be held from all submissions and will be announced in the October epistula. There will be three winners from the drawing.
a. $150 First Prize
b. $100 Second Prize
c. $70 Third Prize
Free Shipping in April
Free Lesson Plans in the Veritas Press Scholars Program
If this program is for you, you’ll want to sign up now, because in addition to free shipping, you will be entered to win the Lesson Plans for the entire year free. As you may know this program provides the organization and scripting for executing our curriculum easily. Click here to read more about the Veritas Scholars Lesson Plans. We are giving away one entire year of plans for one student, randomly picked from every customer who orders this program in April. The winner will be contacted during the first week of May and will be refunded the cost, if already paid.
Q. Should I push my children to read more difficult books or should they read ones that are easier for them to encourage their enjoyment? There seem to be different schools of thought on this issue.
A. It is true that people have varying opinions on this issue, and we are not trying to be political here, but would say . . . both. When children are first learning to read, you should give them lots of books that are easy for them, so that it becomes as natural to them as breathing. If you make it too hard for them, they can become discouraged and give up. At the same time, you want to help them expand their horizons, so you should read aloud with them books that will stretch their decoding skills and give them opportunities to tackle them when they seem ready.
Q. My son just turned five, but he does not seem like he is ready to start formal schooling. What should we do?
A. Let me first say that this is not abnormal. Many little boys in particular are not ready for formal schooling. Your question doesn’t indicate if you are planning to homeschool or put him in a day school, so I will answer it from both points of view. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can move at your own pace. Start off slow next year. Think of it as Pre-K, which I look at as training wheels for education. Start off by reading to him every morning. Have him sit by you and require him to sit still and listen for just ten minutes. Then you might want to do an art activity with him once a week. As the year goes on teach him his letters and numbers by playing games with him and using flash cards. You get the point. You may find that as the year progresses he is ready, and you can start kindergarten then. If you are planning to send him to a day school, I would wait a year. It never hurts, and you don’t want him to struggle for the rest of his school days just because he was five and you felt like he needed to go to school. Two of our boys had September birthdays, making them six within the first month of kindergarten. We believe their age and accompanying maturity helped them a good bit.
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Registration for Veritas Press Scholars Online classes continues to move at a rapid pace for the 2008–2009 school year. We currently have more than twice the registrations for the coming year as this year. Imagine a class studying the War Between the States that includes students from the north and the south, or a class studying the War for Independence that includes students from America and England. It’s fascinating—exceeding our wildest dreams. Click the link above to learn more.
By now you may have received our brochure for the teacher training conferences we are hosting. We sure hope you’ll be able to attend. The plans are to have one here in Lancaster, so you can enjoy the local flavor of things like shoo-fly pie, and one online.
Baucham, author of Family Driven
Faith, will be the featured speaker at the 2008 Teacher Training Conference
July 21–23 in
Those who choose to take advantage of one of these foundational learning opportunities will leave the conference invigorated, with clear tools, methods and plans to teach and administer a classical Christian education in their school or homeschool. We will also be offering Latin-in-a-Week, Omnibus I-In-A-Week and Omnibus II-In-A-Week July 21–25th. The teacher training conferences link above will provide helpful information for those, too.
16th Annual ACCS Conference: Recovering Truth, Goodness, and Beauty
The Association of Classical and Christian
Schools (ACCS) Conference will be held
Online Teachers – Veritas Press Scholars Online has teacher openings for the 2008–2009 school year. Experienced teachers can work from home, the beach, or anywhere high-speed internet is available. Openings currently include Composition, Greek, Math, Rhetoric, and Science for secondary classes (grades 7–12) and in Bible and History in upper grammar school (grades 4–6 only). Additionally, if you are interested in teaching these or other disciplines in the future, let us know. Anticipated growth makes us want to pre-qualify good candidates now. Send resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Phone – Veritas Press
has an opening beginning mid-summer for what we call “First Phone.” The
successful applicant will be replacing Karen. She and her husband are starting
a family, with their first child due in September. Duties include customer
service, answering customer emails, processing orders, and of course being the
first to answer the telephone when customers call. Imagine one call from
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