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Time for a rant about teaching children to read (which was my specialty as a mother and as a teacher).

We teach children to decode words. We teach children to analyze and regurgitate the main idea, the names of the characters, the settings. We call that learning to read.

But we fail in two main categories.

First, we don't give children books and materials worthy of the effort of reading them. Have you ever seen the pap inflicted on children in the classroom? Nowadays it's a bit better than "See Dick run. Run Dick run," but not by much.

I used to turn children on to reading by reading to them. After lunch, they came in from playing outside, sat down, I turned off the lights (quiet time) and read to them aloud. The Just So Stories, Charlotte's Web, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and more, each year. They hung on every word. I'd see faces light up with enjoyment, and I knew I had another convert to the joys of reading. Probably, in part, it was also a reflection of my own love for reading and for the books I was sharing with them.

Second, students may graduate from high school with the ability to read well, but what have they read of substance? What information do they know? Darned little, if you ask me. The history is banal, the civics boring, the literature stunted. No wonder most adults hate reading and are ill-informed. When we laugh at the ignorant opinions some public figure holds, we laugh at her teachers as well.

Whatever happened to education in the true sense of the word?

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