Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

December 1, 2013

CEPEDA: Reading, the essential skill

With not a small amount of disdain, my youngest son — the one who's addicted to his Xbox video game console — said to his parents the other day: "That's all you two ever do: work and read."

A lot of good it's done us. How we managed to raise two boys who detest reading is beyond me.

Reading to them at bedtime every night, going to story time at our library and encouraging them to read everything from newspapers to magazines, comic books, read-along "books," audio books, e-books — none of it has made much of a difference.

Some of our biggest professional disappointments have also revolved around not being able to inspire some of our students to love reading, too. But as with our own kids, love ultimately has nothing to do with it. Reading is too important to be left to taste or affinity.

My husband and I both determined long ago that for kids and students who don't love books, the only solution is to treat reading like fruits, vegetables and time off from electronics: a non-negotiable requirement since they don't think there are any books they'd enjoy.

This is anathema to today's literacy experts who insist on making reading "easy," "fun," "personally meaningful" or "culturally relevant" instead of treating it as what it is: A challenging skill that must be approached with the same rigor and discipline that an algebra or chemistry teacher approaches abstract and symbolic reasoning.

I just about jumped for joy when I read high-school teacher Ilana Garon's post "Is Literacy Fun-Damental? Teaching Reading for Pleasure" on an Education Week blog. It was a politically incorrect — though true — observation on the myth surrounding what students should read.

"Some might think the students need books about their particular ethnic groups to become interested, but that's generally not proven true in my case. For instance, a book they appear to have all read and loathed in middle school is Sandra Cisneros' 'The House on Mango Street,' a book no doubt chosen with the well-meaning idea of appealing to a majority of Latino students. 'Never make us read that book again,' they plead. ... I think the problem with 'Mango Street,' despite the potential for cultural connectivity, is that the kids find it somewhat dated — its setting in the 1960s Chicago trumps the fact that the narrator is Latina or a teenager."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • WILLIAMS: America still the dream Is America really in as bad as shape like many people say it is? I’m 67 and when I look around, I don’t see it.Everything isn’t great but believe it or not, there has never been a time when everything was great, not even in those innocent Fifties we

    July 31, 2014

  • OUR VIEW: Every town that has any sort of waterway -- whether it be a river or a creek or just a stream -- knows it will be used as a trash can. And oftentimes, tires are a favorite trash to be tossed into the waterways. Many organizations and concerned citize

    July 31, 2014

  • WERNER: The mystery of the Indian grave at Dykeman Last summer I contacted Thelma Conrad, executive director of the Cass County Historical Society, to ask her if she had any information on the Indian grave at Dykeman Park. Thelma had heard of it but had never seen the small marker that tells of the I

    July 31, 2014

  • THEIR VIEW: Data confirms our obsession with sports Of the five highest paid employees of Indiana University, three are involved with athletics. That was the case in 2013 as well.In new evidence that spending on athletic department salaries is outpacing the rest of the university, if not the vast majo

    July 30, 2014

  • RAMPBELL: Keeping the sick at home Something strange happened here this week: Lots of workers who’ve never done so before got the right to call in sick. And that’s a good thing.The Big Apple, you see, is joining a handful of other trailblazing cities such as Washington, San Francisco

    July 30, 2014

  • KITCHELL: Patacsil was no ordinary Joe Somebody forgot to tell Joe Patacsil that if he wanted to wrestle at a Big Ten university with black and gold as its school colors ... well, most people who know anything about college wrestling today might have said he picked the wrong one -- Purdue

    July 30, 2014

  • MARCUS: The higher education funding mess Public higher education financing is unsustainable as currently configured. This conclusion was reached by two important groups over the past two years. The National Association of State Budget Officers and the State Higher Education Executive Office

    July 29, 2014

  • PUBLIC FORUM: Are businesses missing out on interns? Are businesses missingout on interns?Admittedly we’re a little biased, but the Indiana INTERNnet and Indiana Chamber teams believe your company is not operating at full capacity if you aren’t hosting an internship program. Missing out on increased pr

    July 29, 2014

  • VILLAGE IDIOT: The state of the reunion “Katy! It’s been so long! How’ve you been?”My God, she’s gained so much weight I didn’t recognize her. It’s a good thing we’re all wearing nametags. I thought it was some distant cousin past due with triplets.“Bob! Long time, no see.”No hair, either.

    July 29, 2014

  • OUR VIEW: Indiana's right-to-work law unnecessary It has been a crime for Indiana employers to enter into labor contracts that require workers to pay union dues since Feb. 1, 2012 — the day then-Gov. Mitch Daniels signed legislation making the Hoosier State a “right-to-work” state.Whether Indiana ke

    July 29, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should the U.S. impose a travel ban on three West African nations in response to a growing Ebola virus outbreak?

Yes
No
Not sure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.