Opinion: Reading Is A Science. Schools Are Missing The Lesson!

By , The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

When I had my first child, the advice to me about how to raise a strong reader was simple: Read to her all the time and leave good books around.

That guidance reflected the belief that learning to read was instinctual, much in the way that the acquisition of language is. The manifestation of this belief in the classroom became a balanced literacy method, a middle ground between decoding words through systematic phonics versus whole language where young readers use cues, pictures or context to identify words and decode the text. However, phonics was minimized in many districts.

But a deepening canon of brain research — dubbed the science of reading — has led to a concerted effort now to change how we teach reading. “Kids learn language just by being in an environment where language is spoken. Reading does not develop that way, a real critical distinction,” said reading expert Ryan Lee-James, director of the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School. “In fact, those language areas of the brain have to be reorganized or programmed for children to be able to read.”

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