As somebody who has dedicated a huge portion of his life to children reading and child literacy, I understand the importance of child literacy. The ability to read has always, and will always be, an incredibly important skill in adulthood. As the author of multiple children’s and young adults books, I have always pushed for child literacy. And that work is paying off.
According to a recent report from USA Today, child literacy is far better today than it was ten years ago. According to a test conducted over the course of 12 years at Ohio State University, students who are in kindergarten are learning now what they used to in first grade. This more robust, earlier learning has directly resulted in higher reading proficiency.
The study surveyed hundreds of thousands of students from thousands of schools in 44 states. After being tested in both basic and advanced literacy skills, the researchers realized that today’s children are challenged much earlier than before.
Professor of Teaching at Ohio University, Emily Rodgers noted the staggering difference in literacy rates, stating, “Children are better prepared when they enter first grade than they used to be. Kindergarten is the new first grade when it comes to learning reading skills.”
The test found low-performing children’s basic understanding increase in a variety of skills, ranging from letter identification to print awareness.
While this news is incredibly heartening to advocates for child literacy, unfortunately there is still much work that needs to be done. Jerome D’Agostino, a co-author of the study believes that there is a “missing link” between teaching low-performing students literacy skills and having them implement those skills in reading. Rodgers believes that we are focusing too heavily on the basic skills instead of offering “opportunities to actually read text.”
Regardless, I am incredibly happy to hear that child literacy rates, in any capacity, are improving. I am confident that, as we continue to study and adapt our literacy curriculums, we will one day achieve near universal literacy levels.