When Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jon Scieszka visited the Children’s Book Guild in May, he recommended a book called Readicide, by Kelly Gallagher. I was immediately intrigued. The complete title of this book is Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do about It. Scary title, to say the least.
Are schools killing reading? As a teacher, I know that Sustained Silent Reading Time is disappearing rapidly to provide more time for test preparation. Gallagher addresses this issue in Readicide. He describes how our teachers are in a bind. They are held accountable for test scores and forced to teach subjects shallowly in an effort to cover the required curriculum. And he eloquently makes a case against this situation. When we teach our students only facts, we don’t teach them to think. At the rate at which information is expanding in our society, this is dangerous. Facts become out of date. The ability to think critically does not.
And what about creativity? Gallagher suggests that America’s competitive edge internationally, despite lower tests scores in science and technology, comes from our creativity and “can do” spirit. If we raise test scores by “teaching to the test,” will we lose something far more valuable in the long run?
In Readicide, Gallagher describes how reading provides “imaginative rehearsals” for life, helping students contemplate and comprehend our confusing world. As children’s book authors, we provide a means for young people to experience and consider things they may not encounter in their everyday lives. We help prepare them to lead productive, thoughtful lives.
After finishing Readicide, I was concerned about the state of reading instruction in our schools, but I was also proud to be a children’s author and a strong advocate of children’s literature. Thank you, Jon Scieszka, for the recommendation.
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