An effort should be made to encourage reading at home

Ohio education officials are looking forward to a $42 million federal grant, which will be spread over five years, to improve child literacy. It is an important effort, as literacy is the foundation for the rest of an education.

According to the state department of education, the money will be used to create “model literacy sites.” In other words, they are looking for best practices for improving literacy all the way up to the high school level. Another $1.2 million will be used to develop pilot projects at three elementary schools for students with dyslexia or considered to be at risk for it. (No word on where other schools would get the money for similar programs if they are found to work).

State school board president Laura Kohler, said the grants “support an aggressive agenda” to boost reading skills.

Fantastic. But perhaps a little funding should be sought to fill in the enormous missing piece of the literacy puzzle. Parents or guardians who do not read to their children at home — perhaps because they are not good readers, themselves — might need a little help, too. Researchers refer to the “million word gap” in vocabulary and reading ability when discussing the difference in reading levels for five-year-olds who have at least one book read to them each day, and those who do not.

Officials should consider efforts to encourage parents to value books and reading in their home — to read to their kids. And, if the parents would like to, but are not confident in their own skills, it should not be difficult for them to find adult literacy programs that work.

Any effort to improve kids’ reading ability and interest is worthwhile, but officials should not forget how important parents are in making that happen.


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