Public Media's Impact on Young Readers
Time for a Fresh Look
For the average middle-class American, it might be hard to comprehend just how devastating the effects of poverty are on children’s early literacy development. But the social and educational deficits poor children must overcome to learn to read are all too clear from numerous research studies.
When compared with their more affluent peers, young children from low-income families tend to have very little access to books, magazines, or reading materials of any kind, much less high-quality materials. Many lack even the most basic writing tools, such as paper, pencils, or crayons. Poor children are much less likely to be taken to the library, shown how to use a computer, or told a bedtime story. At home, they hear much less conversation, and are exposed to a much narrower range of words. They tend to be asked fewer open-ended questions, and they are less often invited to discuss abstract ideas or to make and defend arguments. Moreover, their parents and other caregivers tend to be much less confident that they know how to teach early literacy skills effectively, or that they can find resources that can help.
The cumulative result of such circumstances is that millions of kids enter kindergarten each year having already fallen so far behind in vocabulary, content knowledge, and the mechanics of reading that they are unlikely ever to catch up, no matter...
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