The World Wildlife Federation sends me literature on animals at risk or endangered. Recently I read that the little Brown Bat and the Blanding’s Turtle, both located in Ontario are endangered due to loss of environment and disease. The increasing network of roads across southern Ontario is isolating the turtle and destroying its natural habitat. Action is being taken and funding is required to save these animals from disappearing.
From my experience working in different classrooms, I have a feeling that presently reading fluency is at risk, and maybe even on the verge of becoming endangered in the next generation? Despite extra funding going into literacy programs in the schools, reading seems to be on the decline, especially reading fluency. Technology is a great tool to aid learning, but it can also become a distraction from focusing on the learning process.
Fluency is the ability to read text accurately and quickly, and bridging word decoding and comprehension. Fluency is built by reading consistently, orally and silently, including picture books, chapter books, articles, and other types of reading. Fluency also develops by being read to at all ages. Studies show that picture book reading is declining, at home and at school. Classroom teachers, in their struggle to cover “the curriculum”, find little time to read aloud, especially in the junior and intermediate grades. Modelling good reading inspires students to read, and builds fluency. According to Professor Bridget Dalton — a national expert on reading development from the University of Colorado — “a reader is fluent when he or she can read with accuracy, speed, and understanding.”
How do we re-create our society to see the joys and pleasures of reading to your baby and your 10 year old child? How can you as parents contribute to making reading relevant rather than at risk? Take some time this summer to read with your children at home, and be sure to sign them up at the local library summer reading program. Pick up books yourself and model reading. This will increase your child’s fluency, and continue to develop a love for reading. Check out websites such as www.schoolfamily.com/buildingreadingskills for recommended reading for children.
Unplug your technology for a week at the cottage, and bring lots of books and magazines. Find out together about the Blanding Turtle, and what we can do to save their habitat. Life is all about learning and reading and discovering!