Sunday, July 18, 2010

Help for struggling readers in English and Spanish

Reading is a tool that can open a world of possibilities. Studies suggest, however, that nearly forty percent of children have difficulty learning to read. Below is one recent look at literacy problems in the New York City school system, and links to suggested reading guides from the Reading Rockets program of WETA educational television in Washington, D.C. Below that, there's also a link for reading help guides in Spanish. Search for library materials in the World Catalog search box to the left above, or purchase books using the link here on BookBag.

Why Cant U Teach Me 2 Read? by Beth Fertig (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux). Yamilka, Alejandro, and Antonio are old enough to vote, but they can't read. In Why Cant U Teach Me 2 Read?, Beth Fertig profiles these three young New Yorkers as they enter the world without basic literacy, following them for two years as they sue the city for extra help, get private tutoring, and make first-ever bookstore purchases.

So who is to blame for letting them fall through this massive educational crack? That's not an easy question. To start with, Fertig's subjects are among the fewer than 5 percent of kids with "hard-wiring problems" that make it extremely difficult to learn how to read (as opposed to the 20 to 25 percent of kids with "garden variety" reading problems). Fertig smartly pulls together shelves of research and animates data and theory with lively classroom scenes and interviews. She walks us through the "reading wars" between competing literacy pedagogies, but unfortunately none has a good solution for learners like Yamilka, who can't hear that "book" and "cook" rhyme.

Are digital technologies to blame? Nope. In spite of the book's title, text messaging actually helps Antonio with reading and writing. Other tempting culprits: Mayor Bloomberg and the technocrats who engineered the city's recent educational overhaul, as well as No Child Left Behind and the never-ending assessments that are used "in lieu of curriculum and teaching," as one school official grouses. But Antonio and Yamilka often blow off their tutoring sessions, and their brains stubbornly refuse to create the neural pathways necessary for fluent reading. By the end, it's unclear whether we should celebrate or cry: After 1,500 hours of tutoring, for which the city paid $120,000, 25-year-old Yamilka can finally read compound words like "boyfriend." (review by Anne Trubek in the Sep/Oct issue of Mother Jones magazine.)

Helping struggling readers, from

Did you know that learning to read is a challenge for almost 40 percent of kids? The good news is that with early help, most reading problems can be prevented. The bad news is that 44 percent of parents who notice their child having trouble wait a year or more before getting help. Unfortunately, the older a child is, the more difficult it is to teach him or her to read. The window of opportunity closes early for most kids. If a child can't read well by the end of third grade, odds are that he or she will never catch up. And the effects of falling behind and feeling like a failure can be devastating. Click below to find information on:

FAQs – Find answers to real questions from real parents about reading and learning disabilities

Why They Struggle – Learn why some kids struggle with reading
Target the Problem! – Pinpoint the problem a struggling reader is having and discover ways to help
Assessment Process – Find out how to get your child evaluated

Parent as Advocate – Why you need to toughen up and stand up for your child
Finding Help – Where to get extra help for your struggling reader
Self-Esteem and Reading Difficulties – What else suffers when kids struggle in school and what they can do to help themselves

Early identification is crucial. If you suspect a problem, don't hesitate. Learn about reading difficulties, get your child assessed, find out what you can do to help your struggling reader, and don't give up.

Related articles

Seeking Help for a Struggling Reader: Seven Steps for Teachers
, byJoanne Meier and Karen Freck: Children come to our classrooms from so many different ability levels and backgrounds. As a teacher, it's important to recognize and know what to do to help a struggling reader.

About Reading Disabilities, Learning Disabilities, and Reading Difficulties by Kathryn Drummond. Reading difficulties likely occur on a continuum, meaning that there is a wide range of students who experience reading difficulties. There are those students who are diagnosed with a learning disability. There is also an even larger group of students who do not have diagnoses but who need targeted reading assistance.

Waiting Rarely Works: Late Bloomers Usually Just Wilt,
by American Federation of Teachers. A look at three pivotal studies clearly shows that Late bloomers are rare and that skill deficits are almost always what prevent children from blooming as readers.

Seeking Help for a Struggling Reader: 8 Steps for Parents, by Reading Rockets. What should you do if you think your child is having trouble with reading? Sometimes children just need more time, but sometimes they need extra help. Trust your instincts. You know your child best. If you think there's a problem, there probably is.

Lectura de ayuda en español es un sitio Web bilingüe que provee información, actividades y consejos sobre cómo ayudar a sus niños a que aprendan a leer y tengan éxito en la escuela. Desarrollado por el proyecto Reading Rockets, Colorín Colorado resalta información práctica para los padres de habla hispana, contiene hermosas ilustraciones de David Díaz, el ilustrador ganador del Premio Caldecott, además de videoclips de celebridades tales como la que fuera nuestra querida Celia Cruz, y actividades que giran alrededor de canciones y rimas en el lenguaje español para desarrollar habilidades.

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