I am currently reading Reading Reconsidered and will review it properly in the next week or so. However, I couldn’t resist mentioning a couple of statistics from the book (both from page 210) before I do so:
a colleague of ours followed a sample of students through their day at New York City public schools and found that, on average, students were reading for twenty minutes per day. Twenty minutes! What’s even more disheartening is that almost 40 percent of students did not read at all during the school day. Of course, this assumes that during the time students were reading, they were reading well and attentively, which is no sure thing.
Surely, 20 or 40 or 60 minutes of reading a day doesn’t cut it.
That wouldn’t be so bad if students were reading voraciously at home but, of course, they are not:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, the average American teenager reads outside of school for an average of four minutes per day on weekends and nine minutes per day on weekdays.
So what is to be done?
The authors of Reading Reconsidered make various interesting suggestions, which I will discuss another time, but I also want to suggest that an obvious solution is to sidestep school altogether.
One of the great advantages of home education is that it gives children time. Time to read and time to do all sorts of other things as well. Lose the school run, assemblies, lesson changes, the eternal pfaff while the teacher tries to fire up the obligatory technology, the journey home, etc and you find that you’ve got a whole lot of time on your hands. Time that can be happily spent reading. That may sound idealistic but my experience of home education is that home educated children often maintain and extend their reading habits to a quite extraordinary degree.