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A book under the tree?: Few young people receive books as Christmas gifts

“Why Johnny can’t read”: Parents do not buy them books or secure library cards

… 67 percent of U.S. students graduate from high school reading below their grade level

How many children from good, well-to-do or middle class families will not receive a book as a Christmas gift this year?

Entirely too many.

All electronics all the time. Video games. Cell phones.

Yet, today, literacy rates continue to decline. Almost 67 percent of students in the U.S. graduate from high school while reading below their grade level.


Not really. Parents just do not encourage children to read today. Many of these parents want their children to earn high grades and do well on the SAT or ACT, but they do not do anything to encourage that.

A shocking stat is that 60 percent of kids who are attending school in America are living in a home where they have no books to read.

Not one book in the house.

That is sad, but just look under the Christmas tree. How many books do you see? How many books do kids read outside of school?

Kids reading in summer?

When I was teaching in high school, parents asked us as English teachers how they could improve their children’s SAT and PSAT scores and compete in college. My answer, as one who was teaching the juniors and seniors, was to start a summer reading program in which students would read some classics that would expand their vocabulary and cognitive skills.

The reaction from some was great. The embraced the idea.

The reaction from others was outrage. “How dare you force my kid to study during the summer!”

That is where we are today. Those parents who objected probably had children who were not very successful in life because they did not develop their cognitive skills.

Reading can open so many doors. For instance, since I started tutoring students nationally this year, I realize that many quality schools — often the “college prep” ones — require students to read and write extensively, focusing on the classics. When I was teaching in Pennsylvania, I found that quite a few schools had dropped those reading and writing requirements and were working on things like producing drama and analyzing music and instead of reading classics and writing — or studying grammar.

It was sad. I had students who went through high school AP programs and were woefully unprepared for college writing. Many are to blame for this, particularly the Common Core and No Child Left Behind crew, but parents who do not encourage their children to read are doing them a disservice.

Just look under the Christmas tree.

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