“I don’t have friends because I can’t read like them.

“In the US, the typical middle-class child enters first grade with 1,000-1,700 hours of picture book reading time; a low-income child averages just 25.” 11Adams, M. (1990.) Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.*

This speaks volumes but yesterday, while tutoring another “sweetheart” in my life – reality yelled even louder. My “sweetheart” was discouraged and I was trying to figure out why. I began probing him with questions and then out it came.

“I don’t have any friends because I can’t read like them.” Willie, Kindergardener

How’s that for reality?

I have wondered why it is easier for some kids to begin to read faster than others and have read numerous books on how the brain learns to read. I am starting to get the brain function aspect of it all and how to overcome some brain glitches. However, I can fix some brain glitches while tutoring the kids but what about the fact that some kids have not ever been read to?

There is much more to overcome in the lower income areas. I can’t even begin to list them, probably because I haven’t ever had to experience them. I don’t know what it is like to go to school hungry, without clean socks or underwear, in shorts when it is cold outside (my kids have experienced this however, due to my negligence), wet shoes because it rained and they are my only pair. How about this one – getting taken from school by strangers to get “evaluated” for abuse when I was in kindergarden.

These things might just interrupt my day and make me not really want to pay attention in school, much less, learn how to read. I mean, I can’t think until I have had my coffee much less in wet socks.

Believe you me, I will be on a mission to get books in the houses. Ideas anyone? I read one place that they filled up backpacks of books and sent them home with the kids who were on free or reduced lunches.

My second mission is free tutoring in for the “sweethearts” of the world. I will start with Bossier City and see where God leads 🙂 You know, one life at a time.

A few more facts for those interested!

The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school. National Commission on Reading, 1985

Great disparities exist among middle-and low income communities in resources available in homes or child-care sites.  Feitelson, and Goldstain for example found that 60 percent of the kindergartners in neighborhoods where children did poorly in school did not own a single book.  D. Feitelson and Z. Goldstein,  The patterns of book ownership;. Reading Teacher 89, 924-30 (1986).

The most successful way to improve the reading achievement of low-income children is to increase their access to print. Communities ranking high in achievement tests have several factors in common: an abundance of books in public libraries, easy access to books in the community at large and a large number of textbooks per student.  Newman, Sanford, et all. “American’s Child Care Crisis: A Crime Prevention Tragedy”; Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2000.


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