The recent release of the Nation’s Report Card presents a cause for deep concern, particularly the shocking statistic that nearly 40 percent of fourth graders are not achieving at even the Basic reading level.
Renowned literacy expert Carol Jago makes the case in The Chicago Tribune for schools to adopt a robust and engaging literacy curriculum to help students recover from the learning gaps associated with the pandemic.
Jago explains that it’s time to put wonderful books on an array of topics in the hands of all children to build background and content knowledge, develop vocabulary, and support reading comprehension.
“Classrooms should teem with books and talk about books. Every day is an opportunity for intellectual delight. We read because we are hungry for what is on the page. Let’s ensure that every language arts curriculum satiates that hunger,” she writes in the op-ed.
Jago, who previously chaired the Great Minds® Board of Trustees, notes that for many children, limited experience with topics in a book might inhibit their comprehension of it. She adds that one important way to address that is by having a rich curriculum that builds student knowledge through award-winning books organized by themes, like you see in Wit & Wisdom®.
As educators nationwide work to address instructional gaps, all students must have access to grade-level books across genres. That might mean supporting struggling learners with read-aloud or other strategies to help them access the material. Jago notes when books are compelling, students show a willingness to re-read them—another way to deepen and improve reading comprehension. You can read more about how to ensure all students get access to grade-level books in this ASCD blog post from Great Minds Chief Academic Officer, Rachel Stack.
We agree with Jago that it is urgent that students have access to high-quality language arts curriculum, aligned to the science of reading. The fourth graders highlighted in the Nation’s Report Card are now finishing elementary school. By next year, they’ll be in middle school. There is no time to waste and thankfully, thousands of fabulous books to help all students learn.
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Lynne Munson is the founder and CEO of Great Minds.