AMAC Foundation Board Member John Grimaldi, a long-time journalist and reporter whose career includes stints with Associated Press, the New York State Assembly (where he served as Press Secretary of to the Speaker for Membership Affairs), and a variety of public relations positions, recently shared an article dealing with an alarming statistic: more than a third of America’s high school students are deficient in reading comprehension. In quoting education advocate David Bruce Smith, John’s article hits the nail on the head with these comments: “If a child can’t read, he or she cannot learn, and that can have serious consequences for the future of the country. What kind of citizens will these children be when they grow up? Will he or she be equipped to make responsible choices? Abraham Lincoln put it this way: “how can any man judge, unless his mind has been opened and enlarged by reading?”
John’s article goes on to showcase an approach to stimulating the availability of reading material for young people that is more attractive to them than what is conventionally offered to them. That’s a noble objective, certainly, but what’s still needed is encouragement and that gentle nudge to take reading seriously, and to open young minds to the wonders of the written word. That’s where you come in! If you have the luxury of having grandchildren at a close proximity, it’s important that you take the initiative to engage them in reading. If your grandchildren are physically remote, you still have the opportunity to encourage their parents to read to them. And if you do not have grandchildren, know that most schools and libraries offer volunteer opportunities that enable seniors to share the gift of reading with local youngsters.
Here’s the full text of John’s article…it’s a worthwhile read!
37% of high school grades are deficient in reading
“How can any man judge, unless his mind has been
opened and enlarged by reading? …Abraham Lincoln
WASHINGTON, DC – Here’s an alarming statistic: just 63% of high school graduates are proficient in reading. That’s the assessment from the U.S. Department of Education in its most recent Nation’s Report Card. And, thirty-seven percent lack sufficient reading comprehension.
“If a child can’t read, he or she cannot learn, and that can have serious consequences for the future of the country. What kind of citizens will these children be when they grow up? Will he or she be equipped to make responsible choices? Abraham Lincoln put it this way: “how can any man judge, unless his mind has been opened and enlarged by reading?” We need to push to influence the schools into focusing on the importance of the printed word,” says education advocate David Bruce Smith.
Smith’s conclusion is reinforced in a recent Intellectual Takeout article, which suggests that our schools get a failing grade when it comes to instilling a love-or interest in-what a student reads. Most are “taught” it is a chore they must endure.
But, not all teachers downplay its importance. Neme Alperstein is a teacher with an international reputation for excellence, and a member of Smith’s panel of judges for the Grateful American Book Prize. She believes “you can’t force unwanted reading materials on young children. It just doesn’t work if one hopes to develop a love of reading and learning. Children must have the freedom to select what they read if they are to acquire a love of books in support of learning. That freedom can take a child’s interest in new and exciting directions.
“It is essential to recognize the limitations of prescribed reading lists and their impact on a child’s motivation. Have you ever given a young child a book he or she didn’t want? I’ve seen children hand the book back or simply leave it somewhere as they then look for what they really want to read, digitally or in print. Children usually make better reading choices for themselves that they then actually read. The key is to foster a joy and enthusiasm for reading, often what prescribed lists from programs in schools cannot achieve,” according to Alperstein.
The report from the Department of Education also revealed that the nation’s children are deficient in their knowledge of who they are, where they come from, and-most of the important lessons of history,” according to Smith.
Smith and Dr. Bruce Cole, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, established the Grateful American Book Prize in 2015 to encourage authors and publishers to produce more works of fiction and nonfiction about American history-that appeal to young readers.
This year’s panel of judges is in the process of selecting the winner; he or she will receive a cash award of $13,000 commemorating the 13 original colonies, and a medallion created by the American artist, Clarice Smith. The October 12th reception will be at the National Archives in Washington, DC. 12th. Two writers will also receive “Honorable Mention” acknowledgments of $500 each.
Submissions for 2018 will be accepted January 1st through July 31st.
Name: John Grimaldi
Email: [email protected]